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GalIpaqos: World's End 

Jungle Days 

The Arcturu3 Adventcub 



Fig. a. Argyropelecus. A LUAIINESCENT DEEP- 

(Twice natural size) 

Fig. B. Sternoptyx. A COMMON DEEP-SEA FISH 



(Twice natural size) 

n '. ; 






<^n (Account of the T^ew york 'Zoological Society's 
^rst Oceano graphic Sxpcdition 



Tyirector of the TDepartment of 'tropical "^search 


Tuhlished under the cS\uspices of the 'Zoological Society 



SIjc '^nltktxbtxtkei ^rtss 


Copyright, 1926 

William Beebe 


Made in the United States of America 




Christopher Columbus to the Prince of Monaco 

who have laid firm the foundations of oceanography 

and to 

the generous patrons of this wor^ 


Queen Isabella to Henry Whiton and Harrison Williams 


The origin and evolution of life, men and ex- 
peditions are interesting. On the very day of my 
return from the Galapagos in the Noma, I was 
introduced to a recently elected member of the 
Board of Managers of the New York Zoological 
Society, Henry D. Whiton. Mr. Whiton said to 
me, "You seem tremendously interested in the 
Galapagos; if you ever want to go back there I 
will furnish the steamer if you can get someone 
else to provide the coal." So from this generous, 
tentative beginning there crystallized the twenty- 
four hundred ton steam yacht Arcturus, the 
specified coal, a splendid oceanographic outfit, a 
captain and a crew, and an expedition of six 
months' duration, which steamed from New York 
to the Sargasso Sea, thence to Cocos and the 
Galapagos, and which secured a host of treasures, 
from the most microscopic beings which contribute 
to the surface luminescence of the sea, to a giant 
devilfish weighing more than a ton. 

The two chief contributors to the expedition 
were Henry D. Whiton, who gave the Arcturus, 
and Harrison Williams who provided three- 
fourths of the entire cost. Other generous contrib- 
utors were Marshall Field, Clarence Dillon, 


Vincent Astor, the American Museum, George 
F. Baker, Jr., Arthur T. Newbold, Thomas S. 
Yates and Junius S. Morgan. Other gifts to be 
recorded are a sounding machine from William H. 
Trotter; sets of oceanographic books from 
Frederic C. Wolcott; motion picture negatives 
from George Eastman; flashlights and batteries 
from the National Carbon Co.; a powerful radio 
set from the Stromberg-Carlson Mfg. Co. and the 
launch Pawnee from Harry Payne Bingham. To 
Ernest Lester Jones, Chief of the Coast and 
Geodetic Survey, I am obliged for a host of kind- 
nesses and the loan of valuable instruments, and to 
the U. S. Fisheries Bureau for the Albatross 
launch and much valuable gear. 

The entire responsibility for the sea-going con- 
dition of the Arcturus, her complete overhauling 
and the supervision of the building of laboratories, 
dark-rooms, refrigerators and oceanographic ap- 
paratus was assumed bj^ Mr. J. R. Gordon and the 
naval architect, Edwin C. Bennett. Capt. Yates 
acted throughout for Mr. Wilhams, and it is to 
the whole-hearted enthusiasm and interest of these 
gentlemen that the smoothness of operation and 
general success of the mechanical basis of the ex- 
pedition was due. 

For Captain Howes and First Mate Mc- 
Laughlin I have nothing but single-minded praise. 
No more willing, patient and capable seamen ever 

• Several guests of honor joined the expedition 
for more or less brief stages, among them being 


Prof. Henry Fairfield Osborn, Mr. Gregory 
Bateson, Mr. Herbert Satterlee and Miss Mabel 
Satterlee, Mrs. George Putnam and her son David, 
and Miss Margaret McElroy. 

The scientific staff was of my own choosing, each 
of the seventeen members having a definite field 
of work, which they filled to the full extent of their 
ability. Without their loyalty, constant enthusiasm 
and cooperation, nothing of success could have been 

The scientific working personnel was as follows : 
WilHam Beebe, Director; W. K. Gregory, Asso- 
ciate in Vertebrates ; L. Segal, Associate in Special 
Problems; C. J. Fish, Associate in Diatoms and 
Crustacea; John Tee- Van, General Assistant; 
William H. Merriam, Assistant in Field Work; 
Isabel Cooper and Helen Tee-Van, Scientific Art- 
ists; Ruth Rose, Historian and Technicist; M. D. 
Fish, Assistant in Larval Fish ; Elizabeth Trotter, 
Assistant in Fish Problems; Dwight Franklin, 
Assistant in Fish Preparation; Jay F. W. Pier- 
son, Assistant in Macroplankton ; Don Dickerman, 
Assistant artist; E. B. Schoedsack, Assistant in 
Photography; Serge Chetyrkin, Preparateur; D. 
W. Cady, Surgeon. 

The interest taken in the expedition was aston- 
ishingly deep and wide-spread, and the publicity 
was accurate and dignified. An unexpected result 
was the desire it aroused among several gentlemen 
to carry on oceanographic work in the same part of 
the world. Zane Grey visited the Galapagos in 
his three-masted schooner Fisherman after a con- 


f erence concerning the possibilities of big-game fish- 
ing, and since then Harry Payne Bingham in his 
yacht Pawnee, and WiUiam K. Vanderbilt in the 
Ara have done most excellent oceanographic work, 
the former in the Caribbean and the latter in 
Galapagos waters. As late as March, 1926, Mr. 
Vanderbilt reported the Albemarle volcano as still 
in eruption. 

The Arcturus Oceanographic Expedition, the 
ninth expedition of the Zoological Society, sailed 
from Brooklyn on February 11th, 1925, and re- 
turned to New York on July 30th. In the interval 
we steamed a distance of over 13,600 miles, touch- 
ing at Norfolk, Bermuda, Panama, Cocos Island 
and the Galapagos. We brought back 11,000 feet 
of splendid motion picture film taken by E. B. 
Schoedsack, besides hundreds of colored plates and 
photographs. We established one hundred and 
thirteen stations, made hundreds of hauls with nets 
and dredges, threw overboard two thousand drift 
bottles containing data as to our identification, the 
date, latitude and longitude. 

My object in this volume differs in no respect 
from that of the account of my last expedition, 
Galapagos: World's End, — a scientifically ac- 
curate, popular presentation of the high lights and 
vivid experiences of the expedition. As yet there 
has been time and opportunity for the careful iden- 
tification of only a few of the many thousands of 
specimens collected, so that in some instances tech- 
nical names are lacking in this volume. Whenever 
identification has been possible I have included it 


in the list of scientific names in Appendix B. Ap- 
pendix A consists of a resume of the bird life of 
Osborn Island. Beyond a final narrative chapter 
I have attempted no definite chronological journal. 

All the details of operation, explanation of the 
apparatus, technical descriptions of specimens and 
of our individual problems, will be published in 
Volume VIII of Zoologica, the Zoological 
Society's scientific publication. 

Chapters VI and X are wholly the work of Ruth 
Rose and in her role of Staff Historian she has 
collaborated with me in Chapters I, IX and XVI. 
Colored Plates IV and VI, and the book lining are 
the work of my Staff Artist, Isabel Cooper; Plate 
III is by Don Dickerman; Plate VIII by Dwight 
Franklin, while Plates I, II, V and VII are by 
Helen Tee-Van. In regard to the black and white 
illustrations. Figures 1, 4, 8, 49, 50, 59 and 60 are 
from drawings by Dwight Franklin; 31, 47 and 58 
by Isabel Cooper; 36 by Don Dickerman; 12 and 
18 by Charles Livingston Bull by permission of 
the Curtis Publishing Company; 2, 16, bQ, 61 and 
66 by John Tee-Van; 69 by Elwin R. Sanborn 
from the New York Aquarium, and 10 from the 
American Museum. All the remaining photo- 
graphs are by Ernest Schoedsack. 


The avowed objects of the Arcturus Expedition 
were the investigation of the Sargasso Sea and the 


Humboldt Current. Owing to continual storms 
the former was in such a disintegrated condition 
that I soon decided to postpone detailed study until 
a more favorable time. In the Pacific, to our sur- 
prise, we found that there was absolutely no trace 
of the Humboldt Current about the Galapagos. 
The inexplicable absence of this great, cold, Ant- 
arctic current was more than made up for by the 
presence of equally unexpected natural conditions. 

Among the totally unexpected and inestimably 
valuable phenomena — the high lights of the expe- 
dition — were the great volcanic eruption on Albe- 
marle (Chapter V) ; the albatross rookery on Hood 
(Chapter IV) ; the remarkable results of hundreds 
of dives in a copper helmet and bathing suit 
(Chapters III, VII, IX, XI and XII) ; the dis- 
covery in New York of a dramatic personage who 
had sought pirate treasure on Cocos for two de- 
cades (Chapter X) ; the temporary current rip in 
mid-ocean (Chapter II) ; and the deep sea work 
in the submerged Hudson Gorge, only one hundred 
miles from New York City (Chapter XV). 

Finally, the accomplishment which, scientifically, 
proved the most valuable of all, was the result of 
my decision to make a ten-day stay in one spot 
in mid-ocean, Station 74 (Chapters XIII and 
XIV), where continual dredging yielded very re- 
markable collections of fish and Crustacea, equiv- 
alent to any two months of the less intensive work. 
In fact the Crustacea taken at Station 74 equal 80% 
of all the rest which we took in the Pacific. 



I. — Sargasso Weeds and Waves {By William 
Beebe and Ruth Rose) 

II. — Where Currents Rip 

III. — With Helmet and Hose 

IV. — Albatrosses 

V. — The Birth of a Volcano 

VI. — Our Islands (By Ruth Rose) 

VII. — With the Sharks of Narborough 

VIII. — Flotsam and Jetsam 

IX. — Cocos — The Isle of Pirates (By William 
Beebe and Ruth Rose) 

X. — Cocos — A Tale of Treasure (By Ruth 
Rose) ...... 

XI. — The Philosophy of Xesurus 

XII. — Slumberers of the Surge 

XIII. — Seventy-four: An Island of Water 

XIV. — Davey Jones' Goblins 














XV. — Fishing in the Hudson's Ancient Gorge 364 

XVI. — Log of the Arcturus (By William Beebe and 

Ruth Rose) ...... S84 

Appendix A ..... . 427 

Appendix B , . . . . . 431 

Index ....... 437 



Plate VIII. — Fig. A. Argyropelecus. A Lumines- 
cent Deep-Sea Fish with Eyes Directed 
Upward. Fig. B. Sternoptyx. A Common Deep- 
Sea Fish with Part of the Bony Skeleton 
Visible through the Skin of the Body. 

Painted by Dwight Franklin. Frontispiece 

Plate I. — Scarlet-Tailed Triggerfish, Xan- 

ihichthys ringens (Linne) . , . . . 36 

Painted by Helen Tee- Van. 

Plate II. — Butterflying Fish, Cypselurus furcatus 

(Mitchill) 68 

Painted by Helen Tee- Van. 

Plate III. — Young Fish Taken at the Surface 

IN Mid-Ocean . . . . . .166 

Fig. a. Young of the Giant Sunfish, Mda mola (Linn^). 
" B. Young of an unknown Soldier-fish, Holocentrus. 
" C. Young of an unknown Pomfret, Tarades. 

Painted by Don Dickerman. 

Plate IV. — Parti-Colored Bumpheads, Bodianus 

eclancheri (Valenciennes) ..... 192 
Painted by Isabel Cooper. 

Plate V. — Luminous Surface Fish in Daylight 

AND Darkness ...... 214 

Painted by Helen Tee- Van. 




Plate VI. — Yellow-Tailed Surgeonfish Xesurus 

laticlavius (Valenciennes) .... 290 

Painted by Isabel Cooper. 

Plate VII. — Fig. A. Squid Throwing Out a De- 
fensive Smoke Screen of Sepia Ink. Fig. B. 
Deep Sea Prawn Emitting a Luminescent 
Defensive Cloud ...... 346 

Painted by Helen Tee- Van. 





1. — The Little Sea-Devil of the Arcturus . . 4t 

2. — Diagrammatic View of the Oceanographic 

Apparatus of the Arcturus ... 5 

3. — The Boom- Walk over the Side of the Arc- 
turus . . . . . . . 12 

4. — Forward Hold of the Arcturus, where All 
the Apparatus for the Voyage was 
Stowed ....... 13 

5, — The Large Dredge Being Hauled in After 
Dragging Along the Bottom for Two 
Hours, at a Depth of One Mile . . 20 

6. — Scientific Staff of the Arcturus at Work in 

the Laboratory . . . . .21 

7. — Harpooning a Dolphin .... 28 

8. — Catching Surface Specimens ... 28 

9. — Forward View of the Pulpit ... 28 

10. — The Bubble Globigerina .... 29 

11. — Leptocephalus ...... 29 

12. — Life of the Current Rip .... 48 










13. — Current Rip 

14. — Glaucus .... 

15. — Paper Nautilus . 

16. — Eggs of the Insect Halobates 

17. — Life of the Current Rip 

18. — Diving in Twenty Feet of Water in Dar- 
win Bay, Surrounded by Hundreds of 
Fish of Several Dozen Species 

19. — Making Ready to Dive .... 

20. — William Beebe in the Diving Helmet 

21. — The Author in Twenty Feet of Water, on 
Large Coral Boulders, about to Harpoon 
a Rare Fish ...... 

22. — Moorish Idol, a Brilliant Shore Fish of 
THE Galapagos ..... 

23. — Hood Island Rookery of Boobies, Gulls 
AND Albatrosses ..... 

24. — Galapagos Albatross on its Egg 

25. — These Albatrosses have no Fear of Man 

26. — Birth of a Volcano ..... 

27. — Arcturus Staff Watching the Volcanic 
Eruption in the Galapagos 








28. — Lava from the Albemarle Volcano Pouring 

into the Sea, Killing Fish and Sea-lions 146 

29. — OsBORN Island, between Gardner and Hood 147 





30. — Manta or Giant Ray Captured by Dicker- 
man, Franklin and Cady . . .186 

31. — Head of Sea Snake, from the Current Rip 187 

32. — Egg-case of a Deep Sea Ray, and the Nearly 

Hatched Embryo it Contained . . 187 

33. — Phyllosoma — A Transparent, Larval Crus- 
tacean 202 

34. — Porpita, One of the Most Beautiful of the 

Floating Jellyfish ..... 202 

35. — Giant Ray or Devilfish Swimming at the 

Surface ....... 203 

36. — Unscientific Map of Cocos Island . . 230 

37. — Chatham Bay, Cocos Island . . . 231 

38. — The Arcturus, from the Shore of Chatham 

Bay, Cocos Island ..... 246 

39. — Wafer Bay, Cocos, with Fresh-water Stream 
in the Foreground and Cocoanut Palm 
Planted by Captain Gissler . . . 247 

40. — Cocos Island Boobies, Seeking Shelter at 
Night in the Ship's Boats during a Severe 
Storm ....... 276 

41. — Wafer Bay, Showing what is Left of One of 

Captain Gissler's Houses . . . 277 

42 — Ruth Rose Diving at Cocos in Fifteen Feet 

OF Water ...... 308 

43. — Black-barred Surgeonfish, Teuthis tricstegus 

(Linne) ....... 308 



44. — A Large Piece of Coral, Supporting a Host 
OF Brilliantly Colored Seafans, Sponges, 
Shells and other Organisms . . . 309 

45. — White-striped Angelfish, Holocanthus passer 

Valen. ....... 328 

46. — White-lined Triggerfish, Melichthys bispin- 

osus Gilbert ...... 328 

47. — A Blind Deep Sea Fish, Baihypterois sp., whose 
Chief Contact with Life is by Means of 
THE Long Tentacle-like Rays of the 
Pectoral Fins ...... 329 

48, 49, 50. — Three New Species of Lantern- 
bearing Sea Devils from Station 74 . 336 

51. — Pelican-Fish, Saccopharynx sp. . . . 337 

52. — A Silvery Snipe-Eel, Nemichthys sp. . . 337 

53. — A Living Sea-Devil, Melanocetus sp.. Photo- 
graphed within a Minute of Capture. From 
A Depth of 600 Fathoms .... 358 

54. — A Brotulid Fish Still Living after Having 

Been Brought up from a Half Mile Depth 358 

55. — Sorting a Rich Haul Brought up by the 
Dredge from a Depth of 624 Fathoms at 
Station 74 ..... . 359 

56. — Dusky Shark Caught One Hundred Miles 

OFF New York City ..... 374 

57. — A Deep Sea Shark, Eight Inches Long, from 

Over a Half Mile Depth at Station 74 . 374 

58. — A Sea-Devil with Luminescent Teeth . . 375 



59, 60. — Two Species of Sea-Devils from the 

Black Zone ...... 375 

61. — Atlantic Routes of the First Voyage of 

Christopher Columbus and of the Arcturus 386 

62. — Captain James Howes 387 

63.— First Officer McLaughlin .... 387 

64. — Isabel Cooper, Staff Artist, Painting a 

Living Fish ...... 396 

65. — Dwight Franklin, Coloring a Plaster 

Model from a Living Fish . . . 396 

66. — Pacific Routes of the Arcturus . . . 397 

67. — Lake Arcturus ...... 406 

68. — The Arcturus Returning from Her Six 
Months' Voyage, Flying Her One Hun- 
dred AND Eighty Foot Homeward Bound 
Pennant ....... 407 

69. — Sand Shark with Two Shark Suckers 

Clinging to It . . . . . 416 





Most amazingly I am floating in midspace be- 
neath a dense grape arbor with the smi shining 
through a mat of yellow-green leaves and the un- 
ripe fruit glowing like myriads of jade beads. 
Then the air becomes chokingly oppressive — I 
gasp — kick out violently with my feet and shoot up 
through the tangled mass of olive growth. Drip- 
ping like Neptune, wreathed like Bacchus, my head 
breaks water in mid-ocean in a mass of sargassum 
weed — a thousand miles from land. Nothing is in 
sight except the sliding hillside of an appallingly 
steep but smooth swell bearing down upon me, 
until I shake the water from my eyes, brush aside 
the dangling strands and, twisting about, behold 
the huge bulk of the Arcturus silently lifting and 
settling a few dozen yards away. This is my first 
fish-eye-view of the Sargasso Sea, on the only day 
for weeks which is calm enough for a swim. 

The thought of a grape arbor as seen from below 
is more than a simile of these hanging gardens, and 
far from original, for about three centuries ago 
a Portuguese spoke of them as salgazo or "little 



While the sargassum may be falsely reported 
to have been the weed that clogged a thousand 
ships, yet it undoubtedly played a most import- 
ant part in the discovery of America. Mutiny 
among the crews of Columbus was too much of 
a menace for the comforting daily sight of drift- 
ing vegetation not to be a very real mental 

"They were astonied" writes an old translator 
of Columbus' journal, "when they saw the sea, in 
a manner, covered with green and yellow weeds, 
which seemd to have been lately washed away from 
some rock or island. This phenomenon gave them 
reason to conclude that they were near some land, 
especially as they perceived a live crab floating 
among the weeds." And a week later they saw 
"a tropicbird and such a quantity of weeds as 
alarmed the crew who began to fear that their 
course would be impeded." 

When rumor and legend and travellers' tales 
need renewed basis of fact they always turn again 
to the Sargasso Sea. The supposed graveyard of 
ships has ever been the incubator of fancies. The 
great heart of the Atlantic has been credited with 
powers which make of it almost a sentient mon- 
ster, — it can draw to it ships and men, can hold 
them indefinitely, spew them forth, or pull them 
down to black, soul-crushing depths. Its vegeta- 
tion is as dense as baled hay and has the holding 
power of an octopus tentacle! 

It is a terrible thing to me to destroy beliefs and 
legends. Knowing however, that there were no 


Fig. 1. — The Little Sea Devil of the Arciurus. 

Diabolidium arcturi Beebe. 

Three times natural size. 











Fig. 2. — Diagrammatic View of the Oceanographic Apparatus of the Arcturus. 
Nets, trawls, dredges, etc., used in studying the life of the sea. 


fleets of vessels held captive by the sea of weed, I 
had nothing to abjure when I found that the only 
wrecks were dissolute Welsh colliers wallowing 
past on their unpainted way. 

The mere mention of the Sargasso Sea in the list 
of my intended objectives was enough to inspire a 
whole crop of colored Sunday supplements of 
ancient weed-clogged vessels. As a matter of fact, 
realizing that scores of sailing vessels and steamers 
had traversed this sea again and again, and that 
the fauna of the weed itself was as limited as it 
was interesting, my object in this area was quite 
definite and unique. On my numerous trips from 
New York to British Guiana I had now and then 
seen, tantalizingly near, weed of considerable ex- 
tent, sometimes one or two acres matted together 
— a golden-yellow undulating meadow. All that 
I asked of the Sargasso Sea was a duplication of 
such a meadow which I had seen more than once in 
areas well outside the conventionally mapped area 
of weeds. I hoped that the shallow and mid-sea 
life beneath, ranging from 100 to 500 fathoms deep, 
fed by the untold myriads of dead creatures falling 
slowly from the weed through the water, would 
yield hauls of unexcelled richness. 

In February I took the Arcturus from Bermuda 
southeastward straight through the heart of this 
sea, then east, almost to its furthermost limits. 
Months later on our return I again steamed through 
a great section, this time farther to the north. We 
saw numberless patches of weed, but seldom any 
which were larger than a man's head. For many 


days, in storm and calm, these averaged one to 
every square hundred yards. So my Sargasso Sea 
failed, in the aggregate, to materialize and I con- 
tented myself with the thousand and one other in- 
terests and problems which always rush in to fill 
such a vacuum. 

When, in the very heart of the sea, I found only 
small heads or mats of weed I should have been 
truly desolate were it not that the explanation was 
of exceedingly great interest. It made the Sar- 
gasso Sea more familiar, less sinister; it showed 
that even in this shifting, plastic, nomadic, open- 
work island there were definite seasons. An eternal 
spring or autumn or winter is a frightful thing to 
contemplate, while a succession of seasons links the 
very antipodes with our home backyard. Dunsany 
well knew how to destroy an alien feeling — to con- 
nect the extremes of geologic ages — when he be- 
gan a tale with the sentence, "It was a cold winter's 
evening late in the Stone Age." 

And so this region lost much of its inimical char- 
acter when I realized that I could say of my visit, 
"It was a late autumn day in the Sargasso Sea." 
My experience demonstrated an incisive difference 
between an undertaking dealing with business, re- 
ligion or politics on one hand, and science on the 
other. We had set out to find vast fields of the 
weed teeming with living creatures, and we found 
only small mats and plaques almost destitute of 
life. A negative result such as this would be ac- 
counted a failure in business or hopeless in religion. 
To science it was of concrete value and added a 


wholly new interest to the entire problem. Simul- 
taneously with the disappointment at not seeing 
the fragments of weeds united into vast fields, came 
the certainty that following this autumn and win- 
ter, there must come spring and summer to these 
sunken meadows. 

Although life was at lowest ebb yet the sargas- 
sum itself was in full growth. Day by day as we 
steamed eastward the weed became fresher and 
cleaner. The dark-colored, older portions disap- 
peared in the heart of the new branches. Each 
bunch sent tiny sprigs up into the air, a valiant 
effort on the part of a poor, aquatic relation to share 
the thinner medium with the forests and flowers 
and fruits of the dry earth. 

The origin and maintenance of the Sargasso Sea 
is still a moot question, whether the vast area is 
replenished annually by fragments storm-torn from 
the rocks of shallow coastal waters and poured 
forth by the Gulf Stream, or whether the weed per- 
petuates itself by continuous growth. Like the 
familiar banana, there are no seeds or spores 
formed in mid-ocean, but the growth of new, pale- 
yellow fronds and bladders is vigorous and con- 
stant. After my experience on this expedition I 
have no doubt whatever that the weed can propa- 
gate itself, vegetating, for a great many years if not 
perennially. When I kept masses of it in running 
water in aquariums, the older portions soon died 
from some excess or lack of light or heat. When 
I picked these pieces up by the newly sprouted 
fresh tips they would break off by their own weight, 


the old growth sinking to the bottom, while the 
newer sprigs and bladders rose and floated buoy- 
antly at the surface. This would seem to account 
for the great abundance of wholly new heads which 
I observed in the heart of the area, quite devoid of 
any down-pulling old growths. I have no doubt 
that in a vast number of cases the sprouts are auto- 
matically detached at the point of juncture, either 
by the turbulence of the waves or after the whole 
has been pulled under water for some distance. 
That there is a certain amount of constant replen- 
ishment from coastal plants there is no doubt, but I 
think this is of minor importance in the mainten- 
ance of the Sargasso Sea as a whole. 

The great age of the Sargasso Sea is attested 
by the specially adapted organisms, — fish, crus- 
taceans, worms, anemones — which inhabit it, while 
the extreme reluctance of these to leave the shelter 
of even a tiny frond is a powerful argument against 
any wholesale, rapid, annual replacement of the 
oceanic weed-drift by fresh supplies from shore. 
Although we seemed to have arrived in the winter 
of the sargassum fauna, yet we collected 95 per- 
cent of the known Crustacea and other groups in 

An unexpected coincidence is infinitely more ex- 
citing and interesting than the fulfillment of a pre- 
conceived plan: Hence my delight at discovering 
that my most interesting days in the Sargasso Sea 
occurred at the same spot in mid-ocean as the most 
dramatic points of Columbus' first voyage. 


My mind went back to the details of that expedi- 
tion and as the sublime may be compared with the 
ridiculous, so I compare the efforts of Columbus 
with my own. How absurd and petty became the 
few delays and disappointments of my prepara- 
tions when I recalled the years and years during 
which he passed from country to country, trying 
to make his convictions real, his ideals practical to 
one sovereign after another. The entire cost of 
outfitting the three caravels of Columbus was $7,- 
203.73 but, while this seems like an astonishingly 
small sum, we must remember that the purchasing 
power of coin at the end of the fifteenth century, 
for ships, labor and food, was at least twelve times 
what it is today. Hence it is probable that seven 
thousand dollars in 1492 would equal eighty thou- 
sand today. However, we must agree with 
Thatcher that "Under any circumstances, whether 
we consider the maravedis expended or the results 
achieved, we may regard it as the most fortunate 
outlay of money since gold and silver and copper 
were minted into coin." 

Here was I with my one vessel, on an expedition 
which was to cost more than twenty times Colum- 
bus' original outlay, with hope of results, which 
even at the maximum, could be considered only as 
a burlesque upon his achievement. And as a final 
commentary let us recall that, as a result of his be- 
ing the first individual on his own expedition to 
detect the certainty of western land, he was re- 
warded by the munificent annual grant of ten thou- 
sand maravedis, or sixty-one dollars, a perquisite or 


tip derived from the profits of the slaughter houses 
of Seville! 

Perhaps the best way of visualizing our life and 
adventures in the Sargasso Sea will be to compare 
them with the notes of Columbus made upon geo- 
graphically identical days of his memorable voyage. 

September 23rd, 1492, Christopher Col- 
umbus Wrote in His Journal, "We Saw a 

On the 28th of February, 1925, on the Arcturus, 
so exactly at Columbus' location, that four hundred 
and thirty-three years before we would probably 
have been within sight of the Santa Maria, the 
dismal bleat of a tin fish-horn woke me. I slid out 
of my berth on the next roll of the ship and groped 
sleepily for dressing-gown and slippers that were 
arranged in fireman fashion ready to be donned. 
The captain and officers of the Arcturus had been 
instructed to blow the horn whenever they sighted 
any living thing, and their eyes were uncommonly 

Like figures in a demented Swiss weather in- 
dicator, the port cabins simultaneously decanted a 
row of bathrobed observers, who peered earnestly 
at heaving grey sea and lowering grey sky. It was 
that dreary hour of dawn when the whole world is 
grey, without a hint of the color-bringing sun. 
Shivering, we lined up at the rail in time to see a 
snow-white tropicbird skim past the wireless struc- 
ture, his two elongated tail-feathers trailing like a 
foamy wake. 


There was a notable lack of enthusiasm at this 
sight. It was the fifth morning that we had leapt 
out at dawn to see the same bird, who appeared to 
take delight in coming only at this hour. The 
spectacle had somewhat lost its charm, not to speak 
of its novelty, but the officer on duty, like one of the 
immortal Six Hundred, refused to reason why. I 
also suspect that he enjoyed making us get up. 

As we turned back to our cabins, one morose 
scientist was heard to mutter, "It may be bad luck 
to shoot an albatross, but I'd like to take a chance 
on that tropicbird." 

Life is strenuous on an oceanic expedition, and 
on the previous evening our nets had brought in 
a rich haul of fishes from the depths, and my late 
session in the laboratory had lasted until three. So 
now I lazily determined on another half -hour in 
bed. Just as I was comfortably dozing off, there 
was a scrambling at the open porthole, and with 
a thud Chiriqui dropped on my chest. 

Chiriqui is the small Panamanian monkey who 
has been the indispensable mascot of three expedi- 
tions of the New York Zoological Society. He is a 
much travelled and thoroughly spoiled person, and 
in his more destructive moments is known as Ras- 
putin, the Demon Monk. His uncanny ability to 
escape from confinement causes him to be referred 
to also as Houdini, and the exercise of this talent ac- 
counted for his presence now. Having apparently 
toiled all night, he had at length succeeded in break- 
ing out of jail, as represented by his enormous cage 
on the forward deck, and grinning with fiendish de- 


light he turned three somersaults on my prostrate 
form, concluding the performance by scaling the 
life-preserver rack and from that eminence hurl- 
ing himself at my head. 

Feeling gloomily Shakespearean, I informed him 
that he had murdered sleep, and hurriedly dressed, 
with a wary eye on him and the more perishable 
articles in the cabin. He is living proof of the 
prestidigitator's boast that the hand is quicker than 
the eye, and with three snatches he can irremediably 
wreck as many objects. To the accompaniment of 
his protesting shrieks, I returned him to his prison, 
repaired the hole through which he had escaped, 
and descended to the main deck for a half -hour o^ 
work in the laboratory before breakfast. 

On this, as on previous days, early morning 
found the ship wallowing through the endless pro- 
cession of great surges which rolled tirelessly up 
from the south. Only thin streamers of weed, 
sometimes extending for a mile or two, undulated 
over the leaden sea. The use of the intricate deck 
machinery which operates our diversified gear was 
complicated still further by the incessant and vio- 
lent motion of the vessel. We had become experts 
in balancing and, at a preliminary cost of a good 
deal of breakage, in knowing just how far we could 
roll before laboratory equipment suffered a sea- 
change into something new and strange in the way 
of wreckage. 

Some of the scenes in the laboratory during those 
first stormy days defy description. An agonized 
scientist, caught unawares by a particularly vicious 
































































































lurch, would find himself far from refuge, in the 
midst of a steep deck made glassy by water, alcohol, 
formalin and other liquids that spilled from various 
directions. With hands too full of precious and 
breakable objects to grasp at a straw, he would 
skate helplessly down the incline, seeming bent 
on dashing his head against the wall, while the rest 
of us, bent over desks and clinging to sliding micro- 
scopes and specimens, could throw him nothing 
more helpful than anxious looks and cries of en- 

Columbus, From His Point of Observation 
ON THE High Poop of His Caravel, Looked 
OUT over the Same Extent of Ocean as I was 
NOW Watching. His Historian Tells Us: 
"The air was Soft and Refreshing, and the 
Admiral says Nothing was Wanting but the 
Singing of the Nightingale ; the Sea 
Smooth as a River. Many Weeds Appeared." 

This fifth morning of the tropicbird's alarm-clock 
appearance held the promise of being fair. Soon 
after sunrise the terrific swell went down and be- 
fore noon the sea was the smoothest we had so far 
encountered. I spent an hour in the pulpit and 
lest any Fundamentalist be startled by the con- 
nection of pulpit and science, I hasten to explain 
that it is one of the several queer contraptions that 
make the Arcturus a mystery ship to passing ves- 
sels. On every sea trip I have ever taken, my fav- 
orite position is as far out on the bow as possible, 


looking enviously down at the floating creatures 
which are constantly passing. And now I had de- 
vised this pulpit which answered every requirement. 
It is a bit of iron grating, surrounded by a waist- 
high iron rail and fastened astride the bow of the 
Arcturus. It can be raised or lowered to any de- 
sired position, and this morning the weather was 
so promising that the supporting cables were let 
out to their fullest extent, so that the grating was 
now and then hidden by a rush of water as the 
ship dipped forward into a smooth billow. 

The first descent of the swaying pilot-ladder was 
an uneasy experience, but one was not at all likely 
to fall when the possibility of falling was so evi- 
dent, — provided, of course, that one had a "head for 
height." For a while I think that the captain suf- 
fered more anxiety than anyone, as from his vantage 
point on the bridge he witnessed the disappearance 
of land-lubbers over the very point of the bow. 
Once in the pulpit, the sensation was rather like 
being in Mahomet's coffin, suspended between sky 
and sea, with nothing under foot but a few strips 
of widely-spaced metal, hanging under the cliff- 
like bow of the forging vessel that slid down the 
watery slopes in a ceaseless attempt to overtake and 
crush me and my scant support. There was no 
sound but that of the rushing water cleaved and 
flung aside by the sharp prow. The sun's rays 
tapered into a luminous cone that plumbed infi- 
nite blue depths just ahead, a hypnotizing focal 
point for dazzled eyes. From undulating blue 
meadows a school of flyingfish skittered like grass- 


hoppers from a hay-field, and two or three of them 
skimmed knee-high across my little platform. 

"They Saw" We Read in the Record of 
Columbus' Voyage, "Vast Schools of Tunny- 
fish, AND the People on the Nina Killed 
ONE. The Admiral says that those Indica- 
tions Came from the West, 'Where, I Hope 
in the Exalted God in Whose Hands are 
all Victories, That Land Will Very Soon 
Appear.' " 

Standing in my pulpit, as I have said, I turned 
to watch the flyingfish plump back into their briefly 
deserted element, when a dark shadow shot through 
the water toward me, — the tunnies had come, — and 
after this hardly a day passed when from four to 
forty could not be seen, swift, violet torpedoes keep- 
ing as steadily in our path as if fastened in some 
inexplicable outboard manner to our keel. But 
today they did not remain long. I happened to 
be looking when the whole school turned, as one 
fish, and with lightning speed darted out of sight. 
The reason became apparent when seven advance 
scouts of a gang of dolphins rushed up and wheeled 
into line, attracted by the throb of our engines from 
heaven knows what distance, to that game of which 
dolphins never seem to tire. 

I don't suppose there is any more inspiring sight 
than a school of dolphins leaping round a ship. 
They are so unmistakably and thoroughly enjoy- 
ing themselves, in their effortless rush and curving, 
easy leaps, that no one could help feeling that al- 


most affectionate sympathy which is inspired by 
watching anything done superlatively well by some- 
one who has tremendous fun in doing it. Right 
under my feet these friendly creatures now frol- 
icked, so close that the lift and fall of the ship, 
sometimes synchronizing with their motion, made 
me feel that I was riding one of the powerful curved 
backs that slid from water to air and back again 
so smoothly as to throw scarcely a drop of spray. 
The torpedo bodies, perfectly fashioned for just 
this, accurately held the appointed distance from 
the ship and seemed not to move a muscle. Only 
close scrutiny revealed the terrific power of almost 
imperceptible strokes of the broad tail flanges. 

My instant reaction to a school of dolphins is 
an irresistible desire to shout, and this, being the 
first combination of pulpit and dolphins, made me 
excitedly wishful for the laboratory toilers. I was 
too selfish to leave this delightful post in search 
of the rest, so I lifted up my voice in what seemed 
fruitless shrieks against the towering ship's side. 

Presently a head peered anxiously over the rail 
far above me, and seeing that my cries were not 
for help but for appreciation, vanished for a mo- 
ment and reappeared with an augmented audience. 
This was still in such an early stage of the cruise 
that the Captain suffered almost hourly pangs of 
apprehension by mistaking screams of enthusiasm 
for calls for succor. Long before the end of the six 
months' voyage nothing less than the wail of a 
banshee would have attracted his attention. 

The capacity of the pulpit being three, two of 


the audience joined me and for awhile we amused 
ourselves by trying to touch the gambolling dol- 
phins as they shot up from the water. For half 
an hour or more we timed individual dolphins with 
a stop watch, and found that they came up for 
breath on an average of once every three minutes, 
the inhalation through the open blow-hole lasting 
from three-fifths to an entire second. Once we 
were thoroughly soaked by the plunge of the bow 
into a deep trough, — a breathless moment when the 
actual security of our position was forgotten and 
the whole ocean seemed to overwhelm us. Wlien 
the dolphins tired of us and rushed away on some 
suddenly remembered errand, I mounted to the 
deck and lowered to the two who remained below 
the long-handled net with which specimens were 
scooped from the waves. 

Pieces of weed were constantly passing, each one 
with its assortment of little beings who depended 
upon it for protection and whose lives were bounded 
by its fragile shelter. Sitting astride the bulwark, 
I hauled up a bucket full of weed, lowered an 
empty one into its place, and carried the catch down 
to the main deck, where it was put in a tub and 
carefully examined for its inhabitants. I remem- 
bered that I was not the first collector in this iden- 
tical spot, since four centuries earlier a famous ex- 
plorer had proved himself a worthy carcinologist ; 

"At Dawn They Saw Many More Weeds, 
Apparently River Weeds, and Among Them 
A Live Crab, Which the Admiral Kept" 
(Columbus' Diary). 


From my own modern bucket quaint things came 
forth, — innumerable tiny crabs and shrimps, per- 
fectly disguised in the yellow-brown colors of the 
weed and even reproducing on their carapaces the 
shapes and tinges of the blemishes and parasites 
on their vegetable home; absurdly attenuated 
pipefish, hardly to be detected when in motion, so 
exactly could they imitate the undulation of a 
waving frond; naked mollusks, or Nudibranchs, 
incredible creatures that must be seen to be be- 
lieved and cannot be described ; infinitesimal worms 
and snails, furnishing food for larger forms and 
themselves finding some microscopic fodder in their 
watery jungle; and each species wrapping itself 
in a cloak of invisibility and melting into its back- 
ground with magical completeness. The common- 
est crab was undoubtedly that which Columbus col- 
lected, and which bears the name of Planes minutus. 

On the scattered bits of sargassum which we sal- 
vaged, I found many hints of the spring which was 
to come to this strange land of sea tares. Masses of 
snail eggs, — some in many-celled stages, like di- 
minutive parodies of golf-balls, others with active 
embryos pushing and straining to break through 
the membranes and begin that series of hopes and 
fears which both snails and we call life. Now and 
then were skeins of fish eggs tangled inextricably 
among the fronds, — linear nurseries of thousands 
of brothers and sisters. 

I took a little three-inch frond of weed into the 
laboratory and watched it under my binocular 
microscope. I pretended the common little inhabi- 


tants were rare and began to observe instead of 
merely to see them. There were three kinds of 
hydroids, — the pahiis, the trees and the spiked 
clubs, all superlatively dainty and elegant, foresting 
these diminutive roof gardens of the sea. Here and 
there were more formal plantings, row upon row of 
beautiful ivory or alabaster chalices, from which 
sprang severe fountains of tentacles, — minute bryo- 
zoans or moss animals, — all arranged just so, like 
the alabaster vases of Italian gardens. The bryo- 
zoan beds were still exquisite when their occupants 
were dead and gone. The sere and autumn of the 
moss animals' year left a mosaic of thousands of 
flattened hexagons as perfect as honeycombs, as 
translucent as age-old moonstone. 

These serried ranks of the bryozoan folk are all 
flattened against their world of weed, but the wav- 
ering groves of slender hydroids are connected at 
their base by rootlets or stolons which wander and 
weave about the fronds and the bladders. It is 
hard to say what are the relationships of a 
group of these little hydroid palms. Is the 
tall animal flower at the smiimit of the berry- 
like float the child or parent of the one be- 
hind, and these three which stand up tall in a 
row like the masts of a Lilliputian wireless station, 
— are they cousins or brothers? If however, we are 
confused at this relationship, what can we say of 
the actual transition from one generation to an- 
other, — as astounding as it would be for a cat to 
have geraniums instead of kittens, and the plant 
offspring to scatter puppies in place of seeds! 


The discovery of our first specimen of Ptero- 
pliryne drew everyone's attention; the youngest 
member of the staff took one look at the little 
creature and cried in honest ecstasy, "My Word!" 
and so it was christened on the spot, and so, dur- 
ing its brief span in our midst, it was affection- 
ately called. I do not blame anyone for objecting 
to the adjective "fascinating" as applied to a fish, 
but I ask such a sceptic to wait until he has seen 
Pterophryne, the Sargasso Fish par excellence. 
From snout to tail-fin it was the piscine essence of 
the fronds, its fin rays produced into finger-like ap- 
pendages, with which it crept about in the weed, 
swinging from frond to frond, dangling upside- 
down, and assuming postures that were irresistibly 
comic. Its foolish face was fixed in an expression 
of intense earnestness, and the stout little body 
performed amazing antics with the agility of a 
monkey. I hold no brief for fish as pets, but 
Pterophryne is the exception. Everyone who 
could draw clamored to paint this specimen, others 
inspected it with a view to determining the species, 
and some of us wished merely to watch it and 
chuckle. Soon the ghastly blue of Cooper-Hewitt 
lights issuing from the bridge-casing told that mov- 
ing picture and still cameras were busily recording 
its appearance and activity. In my journal I find 
a sad note for the evening of that date; " 'My 
Word' died of publicity." He had his crowded 

Elsewhere I shall describe more in detail the 
various forms of apparatus used on the Arcturus, 












o . 


a H 






















but I must mention the boom-walk before going on 
to the deep-sea part of our typical Sargasso day. 
When I saw the Arcturus in dry-dock the thought 
came to me how much of a vessel is outside and how 
little anyone has ever made use of it. I remem- 
bered Howard Pyle's drawing of a pirate's cap- 
tive walking the plank and I made up my mind 
to adapt this to the uses of an oceanographic ex- 
pedition. I fashioned two thirty-foot booms rigged 
outboard on the port side, one slightly above the 
other and about three feet apart. To these, by a 
many-looped rope I laced a duckboard walk. When 
swung at right angles to the vessel's side and firmly 
guyed, I had a perfectly safe runway extending 
far out from the ship and over quiet water, beyond 
the foaming wave thrown up by the passage of the 
Arcturus on her course. I could walk out in calm 
or in storm and, from a curious, semi-detached 
view-point, contemplate the ship plunging through 
the water. One was of the vessel, and yet not 
exactly in it nor on it, a state of mind which may 
resemble that of a soul in its astral body looking 
back upon its corporeal one. Searching for a name 
that should express the feeling of this position, 
we hit upon the Fourth Dimension as most appro- 

In the trough of a swell which looked incon- 
siderable but felt mighty, the tip of the boom de- 
scribed a great arc, swinging far up into the air 
until one looked down from an appalling height 
on the main deck, then swooping waveward with 
such velocity that a salt bath seemed inevitable. It 


was a glorious experience if one was a good sailor. 

The uses of the boom-walk proved to be mani- 
fold, so much so, indeed, that the Captain came 
to me one day to apologize for the scepticism which 
he had shared with marine engineers and others in 
the ship-yard where the weird contraption had been 
made and attached. Trailing silk surface nets from 
the extreme end of the boom-walk proved infinitely 
more effective than the conventional method of 
trailing them over the stern in the roiled and dis- 
turbed wake. When we were anchored I was able 
to use the outboard walk as an auxiliary boat 
boom, or a place from which I could make a descent 
in my diving helmet even at night. The sounding 
davit was fixed half way out and we trolled for and 
harpooned dolphin fish and sharks, besides using 
it for photography, and catching up weed, fish and 
organisms of all kind. In fact this, together with 
the pulpit, increased our totality of effectiveness to 
an astonishing degree. 

Among the host of creatures which we took in 
quarts of plankton in our surface nets by day and 
by night in the Sargasso Sea, one is especially 
worthy of mention in this place. 

Leptocephalus is a general, ignorance-confessing 
name given to the larval form of eels (Fig. 10). 
My first introduction was when I looked at a small 
aquarium of plankton and saw a half dozen mother- 
of-pearl eyes swimming around quite by themselves. 
This was after I had been studying plankton for 
a few dozen hauls, and had passed the stage of 
wondering whether excess of microscopic work was 


working injury to my eyesight. Yet even now I 
did not quite believe what I saw, until I dipped in 
my hand and lifted out a twelve-inch piece of flex- 
ible water. There was absolutely no structure to 
be seen except the gleaming eyes, and yet here was 
a living fish. When dead and preserved, the body, 
shaped like a long thin willow leaf, became trans- 
lucent and then it was possible to make out the 
hundred-odd delicate segments and the all but in- 
visible gills and stomach. When the head was 
placed under the microscope there leaped into view 
a regular old-fashioned dragon, with enormously 
long, sabre teeth, which, were the animal twelve 
feet instead of twelve inches in length, would make 
it infinitely more dangerous than the largest ana- 
conda. In the Sargasso Sea we took hundreds of 
specimens of many species, only a very few of 
which can be accurately identified, for the reason 
that we lack the connecting stages between these 
indefinite water wafers of organisms, and the more 
palpable adult fish. 

The history of two forms of Leptocephalus has 
only very recently been worked out, and is another 
of the inexplicable complexities of nature, which to 
our practical, human minds seems an absolute 
waste of energy. To Dr. Jobs. Schmidt belongs 
much of the credit for the patient unravelling of 
this astounding problem. As Leptocephalus is 
strange as any dragon in a fairy tale, so its life 
history equals the unreality of any fairy tale itself. 

Briefly, these watery beings which, at night, we 
captured in dozens in our surface nets, are hatched 


from eggs which are deposited not far south of my 
first Sargasso objective, 30° North and 60° West. 
At least two species of these tiny, new-born Lepto- 
cepliali soon begin to swim slowly northward, 
reaching the latitude of Bermuda within the first 
year. They then separate into two mighty 
streams. The one which swings westward develops 
rather rapidly and soon after the first year has 
changed into young eels or elvers, and, guided by 
some instinct to which we have not the slightest 
clue, seeks the various fresh-water streams and 
rivers from Florida to Canada from which a year 
or more before, their parent eels emerged. 

The offspring of European eels, on the contrary, 
turn to the east and take three years to reach the 
mouths of their ancestral rivers — be they British, 
Spanish, French or Norwegian. Here they wrig- 
gle slowly up the saltless currents, and after a 
dozen years or so, play their part in this marvel- 
lously intricate round of life. In a single haul of 
a metre net at 30° North and 60° West it is jjossible 
that we captured two Leptocepliali, — one of which 
would have completed its growth in the farthest 
tributary of Lake Ontario, and the other in some 
little stream of the headwaters of the Rhine. 

Why should such sedentary creatures, spending 
almost all their lives in a single reach of brook or 
stream, suddenly be moved to traverse thousands 
of miles of open ocean, braving voracious fish and 
cetaceans to lay their eggs in the Sargasso Sea 
close to an alien continent, when others of their 
class successfully spawn under the nearest pebble? 


Is there a moi*e dramatic phenomenom in the world 
than a whole generation of adult eels of two conti- 
nents moving majestically in their millions, — set- 
ting out upon a voyage at the end of which each 
female will scatter her ten or more million eggs, and 
from which no eel will ever return! When, within 
a space of several years, learned ichthyologists 
wrote confidently of eels descending to salt water 
and, inside of a month, de230siting their eggs close 
to shore, we can hardly afford to laugh at Aristotle 
who, two score centuries ago, stated that eels have 
no sexes, nor eggs, nor semen, and that they rise 
from the entrails of the sea. 

So far on this day we had concerned ourselves 
only with the surface life of the ocean, but now we 
prepared for some deep sea work. The prelimi- 
nary was to take soundings to determine how far 
down the large trawl could be lowered without 
scraping bottom. The warning word ran round the 
ship, "Watch your desks, she's going to roll." Of 
course we had to stop in order to sound, and every- 
one dreaded it, for it meant that the Arcturus 
would soon swing into the trough of the sea, and 
that everything not bolted, wedged, reinforced 
and clamped would take unto itself roller-skates or 
wings, or achieve the same effect. Talk about the 
origin of life upon the earth! no day passed with- 
out a score of examples, in full speed mutation 
time, of spontaneous generation, of metamorphoses 
of ink bottles, jars and filing boxes, into sepia lakes 
in which swam long preserved fish and over which 
fluttered innumerable snowflakes of catalogue 


cards. In those days in the Sargasso Sea, that tried 
men's souls, as well as more material portions of 
their anatomy, we endeavored to accommodate our- 
selves to the whims of the ocean by voyaging as 
much as possible into a head-sea. Thus we only 
pitched, not nearly so distressing and violent a mo- 
tion as rolling. If the ship fell off a bit, or it was 
necessary to change the course and an unexpected 
roll disturbed the laboratory toilers, there was never 
lacking some one to dart out and cast a black look 
toward the bridge, as one who would say "How 
dare you let this ship roll!" I suppose that this as- 
sumption of perfect control on the part of the Cap- 
tain was really very flattering, if we could have 
made him see it in that way. 

The engine room telegraph clanged around to 
"Stop!", the bulky iron weight and hollow sound- 
ing tube were fixed on the slender piano-wire and 
the humming descent to the depths commenced. 
So did the rolling. The boom-walk was already 
occupied by one man watching to see that the wire 
did not kink and another carefully taking the angle 
at which the wire entered the water. 

Th^ indicator-arm of the sounding machine at 
last jerked sharply downward as a signal that the 
weight had touched bottom and detached itself; a 
brief pause and the little motor began to whirr 
again, reeling in a mile and a half of wire, which, 
as it came, was wiped and greased before it reached 
the drum on which it was recoiled. Every time 
a sounding was taken a weight was abandoned on 
the bottom, and considering the number of sound- 


ings that have been taken in years past, one's im- 
agination pictures the ocean floor as thickly and 
bumpily carpeted with seventy-five -pound pear- 
shaped balls of iron. The cold light of statistics, 
however, reveals the fact that so little is actually 
known of the depths of the ocean that, outside the 
thousand-fathom line, there is in the Atlantic an 
average of only a single sounding record for each 
twelve thousand square miles. So, after all, 
the ocean bottom is far from being cobbled with 

When the sounding tube broke the surface on 
its return journey, and was emptied of the sample 
of the bottom which it had sucked up, any ab- 
surd fancy about man's puny efforts was banished. 
The dishful of Globigerina ooze was a pinch of the 
stuff with which millions of square miles of the sub- 
marine world are covered. Under the microscope 
the greyish white gravel resolved into the fragile 
shells of infinitesimal creatures, which in un- 
thinkable quadrillions spend their lives floating near 
the surface and, dying, sink slowly through the 
black depths to add their tiny homes to the vast 
piles of their fellows'. In a world without color, 
because it is without light, totally lacking in vege- 
table life, where an unchanging iciness of tempera- 
ture prevails, and where the pressure to the square 
inch amounts to an added ton for every added mile 
of depth, there are huge areas where the bottom is 
deeply covered over by the bleached remnants of 
these single-celled little beings, each smaller than 
a grain of sand. And over them swim and crawl 


and grope forms of life that are too strange to be 

With the hope of getting some of these gro- 
tesque creatures of the deep, the big trawl was let 
over the side, and the cable began to run off the 
huge drum, passing through a succession of blocks 
that made it look as though a gigantic game of cat's- 
cradle was in progress on the forward deck, before 
it ran over the tip of the outswung boom and 
down into the water. At intervals of a hundred 
fathoms the unwinding process was checked long 
enough to attach a fine silk net to the cable, so 
that the various levels of the sea would be combed. 
We were once more under way, going at slowest 
speed — about two knots — so that too great a strain 
might not be put on nets and machinery, and 
though the ship rolled a bit now and then, it was 
no longer the catastrophic wallowing that made 
us long to be limpets. It was necessary to let out 
the cable slowly, as we had learned by experience. 
On one occasion when impatience overcame dis- 
cretion, yells of horror greeted the sudden rising 
from the waves of a Gargantuan tangle, the re- 
sult of too swift a descent that had allowed the 
cable to overtake itself in loops and coils and in- 
genious Gordian knots. The steam winch was 
checked only just in time to prevent the whole 
mass from striking the first block and working 
tremendous damage. 

With the trawl at a depth of a mile, and five silk 
nets trailing at hundred - fathom intervals, we 
steamed slowly along for two hours. Deep-sea 

Fig. 7. — Harpooning a Dolphin. 

Fig. 8. — Catching surface specimens 

Fig. 9. — Forward view of the pulpit. 
Three Views of the Boav Pulpit. 

Fig. 10. — The Bubble Globigerina. 

One-celled animals living near the surface, whose shells go to form the Globigerina 
ooze which covers thousands of miles of sea bottom. 

Fig. 11. — Leptocephalus. 
The flat, transparent larval stage through which the young of ail eels pass. 


trawling is like an enormous — and expensive — 
grab-bag; after all the time and labor involved in 
putting over and bringing in the apparatus, the 
sum total of the effort may be nothing at all, or 
it may be a host of beings strange and rare, or 
absolutely new. The oceanographer can trust only 
to luck — aided somewhat, of course, by a knowledge 
of the sort of ocean bottom over which life is most 
likely to be abundant, and in some localities, by the 
experience of his predecessors in the work. 

Finally the shout was heard, "Beaters wanted!" 
This sounded like an advertisement by the owner 
of a pheasant preserve, but was really the result 
of finding that the best way to dry the incoming 
cable was to knock off the water with heavy sticks. 
Two at a time, we took fifteen-minute turns in 
earnestly belaboring the big steel rope before it 
reached the drum on its return journey. At this 
moment listen, if you please, to the sounds on the 
deck of the Arcturus: The staccato whacks of the 
beaters, pounding in rhythm to the chanty of some 
ballad of old England, learned from our negro 
paddlers in Guiana jungles; this mingled with the 
rumble and clank of the winch; in the laboratory 
typewriters clattered, the Van Slyke machine 
operated by the chemist thudded swiftly; photo- 
graphic lights fizzed and spluttered in the bridge- 
casing; the second mate, sacrificing his watch be- 
low, mended nets on the whirring electric sewing- 
machine; while over the mechanical uproar of the 
Arcturus sounded the shrill chatters and yelps that 
told of an argument between Chiriqui and the ship's 


puppy — a canine of mysterious pedigree and un- 
known breed. 

Descending into the forward hold for a fresh 
supply of vials, I delved among cases in the swaying 
shadows; here in the lowest depths of this wooden 
ship new noises drowned out everything that 
was happening above. The huge curving timbers 
of the framework miglit have been those of an 
old galleon, and the gobbets of red paint that 
showed where the bolts were placed were shudder- 
ingly reminiscent of those dreadful significant 
splashes with which, in fiction at least, all pirate 
ships are plentifully besprinkled. From the sounds 
it was easy to imagine that the vessel was on the 
point of disintegration; such creaks and groans 
must herald disaster, and when a large swell came, 
the grind of straining planks, and the volley of 
crackling, which might have come from a machine- 
gun nest, were deafening. 

The first net was in; the winch stopped while it 
was detached and brought over the side and its 
contents gingerly emptied into glass dishes and 
bowls; four such nets were safely recovered, but 
something had gone wrong with the fifth, that 
which had been down to five hundred fathoms ; the 
light ropes at its mouth had twisted, evidently on 
the way down, for it was wound up in such a way 
that nothing had been able to enter it. A certain 
percentage of such accidents is to be expected, but 
as the voyage went on, mishaps of this kind were 

The arrival of the big trawl was the signal for 


a rush hour on the forward deck ; everyone, except 
possibly the stokers and the officer on watch, 
crowded around to see the catch. After the first 
week the crew was convinced of our insanity. 
Their standard of excitement was governed en- 
tirely by size, and to see fourteen grown-up peo- 
ple go into ecstasies over such tiny specimens was 
to them one of the funniest and most inexplicable 
sights in the world. What if we did catch a fish 
whose eyes stood out on stalks almost half as long 
as its entire body, and through whose transparent 
skin a minute heart and nervous system were 
plainly visible? If the whole creature was less than 
three inches long, the crew derived nothing from it 
but a hearty laugh. As the majority of deep-sea 
animals are small, the sailors seldom lacked 
comedy. On one occasion, when there was a shout 
of "Whales astern!" and every door erupted flying 
figures that raced aft, the oldest able seaman, a 
big, bored Scandinavian, was heard to mutter, "I 
seen plenty whales. I never seen such funny folks." 
There were hundreds of specimens that must be 
sorted out as fast as possible, and soon every desk 
in the laboratory had an absorbed worker, armed 
with forceps, spoons and pipettes, disentangling 
fish from sagitta, crustaceans from jellyfish, squids 
from siphonophores. If it were only feasible to 
label the nets "For fish only," or "Jellyfish enter 
here"; the oceanogi-apher's life would be much sim- 
plified. The heterogeneous mass that is scrambled 
together by a trailing net is mostly of such fragile 
structure that it seems a miracle to float out a 


double handful in a dish of water and find that 
most of the animals are not damaged. It appears 
incredible that the contact with the net and the im- 
pact of the water on the upward journey should 
not crush all but the largest and toughest. 

There was an excited shout from the dark-room 
that caused a stampede in that direction. In the 
nearly total blackness of that very inaccessible com- 
partment, streaks and gleams and sparks of glow- 
ing light moved slowly and erratically about. In 
the babble of questions from a dozen people who 
were tripping over each other in the dark, I shouted 

'' Astr-onesthes and Oneirodes!" 

This was not an ancient Grecian oath, but the 
names of two luminous deep-sea fishes that were 
nobly gratifying the hope with which they had been 
hurried into the dark-room. Brought up from a 
region where the pressure on their small bodies 
was hundreds of pounds to the square inch, into an 
unfamiliar zone where it amounted to only fifteen 
pounds, it was marvellous that they lived to reach 
the surface, to say nothing of continuing to exist 
long enough to show those little lights which up to 
this moment had been gliding about the cold black- 
ness of the great depths. 

Both of these particular ones were velvety black 
of skin. Astronestlics was rather slim and long- 
bodied, witl) a slender tentacle trailing from its 
chin, which, to my surprise, was delicately lumin- 
ous down its entire length, only the thickened tip 
showing no light. This very fish we later captured 


at the surface at night. Oneirodes was a globular 
little fish, chiefly mouth; from the top of its head 
sprouted an appendage, the upper half of which 
bent at right angles to the base, and from the end 
dangled a tiny light, for all the world like an elec- 
tric bulb. This hung before the fish as it swam 
along and presumably attracted the small crea- 
tures upon which it fed. Approaching to examine 
the illumination, they would be engulfed by the 
gaping mouth, so ridiculously disproportionate to 
the size of the fish behind it. This, however, is at 
present pure theory. 

A third common source of illumination were the 
fish belonging to a group known as Myctophum. 
These too are found at considerable depths, while 
at night we also took them at the surface, sometimes 
in large numbers. They are spotted all over with 
brilliant points of light — the sides exhibiting a 
pattern that varies according to the species, and 
the lower surface literally ablaze with a display 
which presumably attracts edible creatures in the 
same way that the little baited rod of Oneirodes 
lures food. 

With every haul of the nets bringing in these 
and other marvels to be studied, painted, described 
and classified, it is no wonder that working hours 
lengthened insensibly, and that the necessity for 
sleep was but grudgingly admitted. There was 
too, the ever-present peril of missing something, 
and Argus himself might have found his equip- 
ment unequal to the task of having at least one 
eye always ready for emergencies. There was a 


discouragingly vast expanse of ocean to watch for 
possible excitement. 

On October 8th, 1492, Columbus Tells Us 
"There Were Many Small Land-birds and 
ONE WAS Taken Which was Flying to the 
South-west. . . . All Night Birds Were 
Heard Passing." 

This voyage of voyages was thus in the height 
of the autumn migration southward. When I 
steamed slowly through the same waters it was late 
February, too early for the spring migration, yet 
twice we too saw "small land-birds," once a sparrow 
of unknown species, and again a robin, which had 
been blown far from land. The sparrow rested 
on our deck at dusk and could not be discovered 
next morning. The robin circled twice, but al- 
though hundreds of miles from shore, set bravely 
out westward without alighting. 

Another curious sight which Columbus could not 
have seen was a gull with jet-black breast and un- 
der parts. It so defied all my attempts at identi- 
fication that I shot it as it soared high over the 
deck. It proved to be a kittiwake in good condi- 
tion but with the ventral plumage saturated with 
oil, into which it must unwittingly have swam. It 
had fed heartily on the small shrimps and crabs 
which make their home among the sargassum weed. 

Another Entry in the Log of Columbus: 
"The Sea was Very Calm, for Which Reason 
Many Sailors Began to Swim. They saw 
Many Dorados and Other Fish." 


In the afternoon of the typical day of which I 
am writing the Arcturus stopped again for the 
purpose of giving us an opportunity of using the 
reversing thermometers, — ingenious instruments 
for obtaining temperatures and samples of water 
at different depths. The waves had been smooth- 
ing out all day and finally it looked possible to 
take an ocean swim. We had planned that such 
bathing would be a regular part of the program 
in this sea where, we had fondly believed, calm 
waters were the rule, but as none of us had ex- 
perience in English Channel contests, we had so 
far gazed on the boisterous waves without enthu- 
siasm. We took instant advantage of the present 
comparative placidity, and a pilot ladder was un- 
rolled over the side. Down this, those who were 
unwilling or unable to make a high dive, conserva- 
tively descended, and discovered that the placidity, 
noticed with such satisfaction from the deck, was 
only comparative. 

I swam rapidly away for fifty yards and then 
turned and gave myself up to a realization of my 
position in relation to old Mother Earth. A glance 
around brought a tremendous thrill. The swells 
were smooth but mountain high, not wave-like but 
as if the whole horizon were a range of mountains 
marching majestically toward me. My own move- 
ment was negligible; I seemed for a long time to 
be floating at the bottom of a gigantic ultramarine 
cone, then slowly and gently to rise — high, high, 
higher, — until I dominated the Arcturus and 
seemed to approach the drifting clouds overhead. 


Yet no matter to what height I was borne, the dis- 
tant horizon always held another, still more lofty 

These great swells fittingly suited the dramatic 
location — half-way between America and Africa, 
actually balanced between Florida and the Sahara. 
The buoyancy was unbelievable and the difference 
between swimming in a few feet of salt water and 
here where there were two or three miles of liquid 
beneath me, seemed very noticeable. 

I dived and entered an ultramarine world, with 
sprigs of amber sargassum weed floating near the 
ceiling of that world. Tiny fish darted past, and 
once, even with the dullness of my aquatic vision, 
I saw a small school vanish from view — a group of 
timid flyingfish which took to wing and entered 
the air at sight of my strange appearance. I dived 
a second time and sank as low as my stored-up 
breath permitted, and then before I turned and 
kicked upward, took one long look beneath and 
tried to imagine that unimaginable world of life 
down, down in the ever blackening, ever greater 
pressured depths. No ship or companion was vis- 
ible and my sense of devastating isolation, of cos- 
mic awe can never again occur with equal force in 
this life, unless, some day I am able to sense Tom- 
linson's experience when, 

"A Spirit gripped him by the hair 
and carried him far away. 
Till he heard as the roar of a rain-fed ford 
the roar of the Milky Way." 

ildii^iJ.^T.'i>ii U^vUi. 

■ir'"T* f f.r iTi '-T rf. 

Xanthichthys rlngens (LINNE) 

Various color phases of the same individual. The blue phase 
is the normal surface color, the white is assumed just before 
death. (Top figure natural size, the others reduced). 









Here then, in the midst of the sea, for a moment, 
I peered down toward the mid-ocean ridge which 
U^imvc Wagner would use to fill up a chink in his contin- 
ental mosaic; which some would have as the site of 
old Atlantis, or others strew with the weed-caught 
wrecks of ancient galleys, medieval ships and 
modern dreadnaughts. But no theory, whether 
plausible or incredible, could ever people these 
depths with beings stranger than those piscine elves 
and hobgoblins which we were soon to draw up 
into the light and warmth of our daylight. 

I followed the last stream of my life-bubbles to 
the surface and slowly barged along toward the 
Arcturus. From my fish-eye-view the ship looked 
enormous, a towering wall of white lifting to show 
dark, incurving expanses of slimy wood below the 
water-line, and then plunging down with pile- 
driver force as though to smash the impelling wave 
that shot out from the bow in splintered foam. 

Getting aboard again was a nice problem in 
judging time and distance; to grasp the floating 
ladder on the downward roll and allow the reverse 
movement to hoist you up without scraping you 
along the timbers, to employ the next few seconds 
in climbing high enough so that the next downward 
roll would dangle you in mid-air instead of sprawl- 
ing you into the water again; and finally to ac- 
complish all this without losing goodly portions 
of skin, was a game that required practice to be 
well done, and luck to be done at all. 

As the last swimmer slid damply over the bul- 
warks to the deck, the fish-horn sounded dismally 


from the bridge and an arm over the weather-cloth 
pointed abeam. We obediently gazed and sud- 
denly two huge-flanged tails heaved up, hung 
quivering with giant vibrations, hit the surface 
almost simultaneously with mighty smacks and 
were gone. Whether we had glimpsed a battle, a 
courtship, or merely a frolic of two monster whales, 
we did not know. 

Four hundred and thirty-three years ago ahnost 
at this very spot, the sailors of Columbus had seen 
many dorados, and today, at our early dinner, while 
sunset colors were still reflected in the all-surround- 
ing waters, we heard shouts from the boom-walk, 
and fled to the deck, to find that a trailing hook 
had been taken by a big Coryphaena or dolphin- 
fish, or, como se llama en Espaiiol — Dorado. A 
vigilant deck-hand and the wireless operator were 
struggling to hoist it to the swaying, narrow boards. 
The gleaming fish, fighting gallantly, came out of 
water; the gaff lifted it over the boom, and just 
then the ship rolled, the dolphin gave one desperate 
flop and flung itself oft' the gaff*, and the operator's 
feet slid out from under him. He fell face down 
on the steep slope of the foot-way, but under him 
was the dolphin and both arms were locked about 
it in a grip of death. We cheered him from the 
upper deck as he regained his feet and staggered 
grimly to the bulwarks with his prey. The last of 
the daylight shone on the green and blue and gold 
of the dolphin's sides, and we gathered about to 
admire perhaps a direct descendant of Columbus' 
fish. The first officer, who had been in charge of 


most of our deep-sea hauls, passed by. He paused, 
glanced at the victim, and remarking casually to 
no one in particular, "Well, thank God, somebody's 
caught a visible fish," he moved on down the deck. 

"Those on the Caravel Pinta" says Co- 
lumbus, "Saw a Reed and a Log, and They 
ALSO Picked up a Stick Which Appeared 


Piece of Cane, a Plant Which Grows on 
Land, and a Board. The Crew of the Nina 
SAW other Signs of Land." 

Such were the signs which cheered the Great 
Navigator and his men and made them feel that 
land must be somewhere there below the everlast- 
ing western horizon. The same night, in the dark- 
ness, the vibrations from a tiny light were detected 
by the keen eyes of the Admiral himself — the first 
direct contact with the New W^orld. Wlien we 
were twelve hundred miles out in the Atlantic, 
close to Columbus' route, I stood one evening alone 
watching a new crescent moon hung upside-down 
in the sky, and wholly obsessed with the vastness 
and loneliness of the great ocean. Later I went 
into the library, and turning to the powerful radio 
which had been given me, I idly put it into com- 

Instantly there arose a confused sound of instru- 
ments which, almost at once, cleared into a full 
orchestra, in a concert hall in far distant Pitts- 
burg, playing "Hands across the Sea." Another 


half -inch twist and the room was filled with the 
liquid tone of some unknown Senorita, singing a 
song of old Madrid in a far-off Spanish cab- 
aret. It was beyond words miraculous to realize 
that the whole atmosphere above this mighty ocean, 
so clear and silent in the moonlight of the Sar- 
gasso Sea, was vibrant with untold hosts of melo- 
dies streaming past from all over the world. I shut 
off the radio, went on deck far up into the bow, and 
looked down into the silvered water, my eyes strain- 
ing as had those of Columbus. I knew then that 
all the marvel of our modern inventions, all know- 
ledge of the restless millions of people on the dis- 
tant continents could arouse no emotion equal to 
his, when, four centuries ago, the first glimpse of 
that tiny light came across the water. 



Why has no one ever written of walls and 
fences? They are full of interest, and when con- 
sidered from the point of view of the fences them- 
selves, rather than what they confine, they are very 
new and fertile subjects. There are invisible 
fences, like the miles of wire on our western plains 
which shine out only near sunset, until the autumn 
tumble-weed makes them conspicuous all day, pil- 
ing up fluffy but visible barriers. The stone 
fences of New England seem indestructible, but 
when the hands that built them are quiet or have 
gone cityward, they drop, stone by stone, to the 
ground and are scattered again. But even then 
their paths can be traced for years by the lines of 
cedars and cherries, bird-planted, carried there 
by the wings of hundreds of generations past. 
There are temporary fences, like the slanting sec- 
tions which appear at exposed places along rail- 
way lines to catch and drift the driving snow; and, 
still more evanescent, the wooden walls which are 
erected for the purpose of training police dogs 
to jump. 

We in this country do not know how terrible 



fences can be until we have seen the dead-fall 
bamboo lines of the Bornean Dyaks, which wind 
up and down hill through the jungle, and each 
morning are a shambles of pitiful dead things, 
from moon rats to argus pheasants. And it will 
be decades before we can ever know the beauty 
of English wall-trained fruit trees, planted long 
before we became a nation. 

It were easy to think of scores of others, but I 
wish only to get my mind in the mood of think- 
ing barriers, with all the details cast aside and only 
the abstract remaining. 

Walls can be more than tenuous, they can be 
actually invisible, as when I once camped by the 
rim of a great abyss near southern Tibet, up which 
there poured so steady a wall of wind that I used 
to lean recklessly far out against it, farther than 
from where I could possibly recover my balance 
in the event of its slacking. It was a fool stunt, 
now that I look back upon it, but it showed me that 
the air could offer a support like a board. 

I am leading up to a wall of water, not the kind 
which once banked up in the Red Sea, but one that 
we came on unexpectedly in the Pacific Ocean. 

On March twenty-eighth we made the transit of 
the Panama Canal, and prepared to investigate 
the life of that part of the Pacific which, though 
on the Equator, is traversed in a northwesterly 
direction by the cold Antarctic stream known as 
the Humboldt Current. This is a reversal of the 
conditions brought about by the Gulf Stream, 
and is responsible for many paradoxical facts, such 


as the presence of those Antarctic creatures, pen- 
guins, hving and thriving under what should be the 
intense heat of the equatorial sun. 

Just as in the Atlantic we had started out with 
the dominant idea of Sargasso Sea in mind, so now 
in der Stiller Oceari it was the Humboldt Current 
that we looked forward to studying. Our mem- 
ory of two years ago on the Noma was still vivid,^ 
when the turn of a promontory meant sometimes 
such a drop in temperature that, even while cross- 
ing the Equator, we hastily donned sweaters. A 
few miles made all the difference in the water, 
whether it flowed about our bodies comfortably 
warm as the tropical sun could make it, or whether 
it met us in our dive with the shock of a New 
England plunge. 

The first three days in the Pacific we could 
think of only one thing — the glorious smoothness 
of the ocean. For weeks we had wallowed almost 
bulwark deep in the Sargasso, with never respite 
for efficient dredging or trawling, or a chance to 
walk steadily, sit relaxedly, or think quietly. Here 
the sun rose day after day on a mirror, or on gentle 
ripples, and the Arcturus pushed quietly and 
firmly through the ultramarine, fretted here and 
there with the ripple chains forged by flyingfish 
tails, or the great splashed stars where a tunny 
or dolphin leaped. Our night hauls were rich, 
full of new and exciting treasures, taxing our ut- 
most time and energy to watch, describe and pre- 

'Galapagos: World's End, p. 163. 


Early on the morning of the third day we were 
up ready for the Humboldt Current, for new deep 
sea fish, for wonderful floating things — for any- 
thing except what actually came to us. At seven- 
thirty, after sounding, temperatures, and break- 
fast, I went on the bridge and saw a very distinct 
line in the water to the north. The captain said 
we had been steaming parallel to it since dawn. 
I had the Arcturus turned toward it at once, and 
found the Sargasso Sea of the Pacific, only in this 
instance it was a wall of water, against which all 
the floating jetsam for miles and miles was drifted 
and held. There came into my mind at once the 
Humboldt Current, but I soon found that, most 
astonishingly, that Antarctic river had nothing at 
all to do with this gigantic Current Rip, which was 
caused by the coming together of two warm, west- 
wardly flowing streams of water. When we first 
detected the rip we were in 2° 36' North Lati- 
tude, and 85° West Longitude, which placed us 
about two hundred miles southeast of Cocos Island. 

When I approached within the possibility of 
more accurate examination, I saw that the line, 
which stretched from horizon to horizon, extended 
in a northeast and southwest direction. On our 
side, the south, the water showed dark and rough, 
but much lighter and smoother to the north. When 
the Arcturus was at last actually astraddle of 
the rip, I saw it as a narrow line of foam, zigzag- 
ging across the placid sea, with spouting white-caps 
shooting up through the froth that marked the 
meeting place of the great ocean currents. 


The birds were the most noticeable inhabitants 
of this world of two dimensions, boobies of several 
species, stormy petrels, tropic and frigatebirds, 
soaring or feeding. Still more interesting than 
these was a flock of about two hundred northern 
phalaropes, strange little sandpipers which nest 
in Alaska and spend the entire winter far out of 
sight of land. These were massed in a close flock 
and flushed time after time just ahead of the 
steamer in the line of the rip. When finally they 
went on ahead for a half mile, they followed ex- 
actly every zigzag of the line of foam, keeping 
precisely to each bend of the denticulation of the 
current juncture. Twice after this I saw several 
of the little chaps cheating us of our belief that they 
never touched land except in the far north to breed, 
for they were perched on floating logs, picking out 
edibles from the crevices. 

During the last few days we had observed a 
fair number of sea creatures, but here was a con- 
centration of organisms greater than I have ever 
seen — the larger dotting the water and making 
visible its depths, the minute so abundant that in 
places they were of the consistency of soup. We 
had to give up trawling with the silk nets for two 
reasons; in the first place the throw and shift of 
the currents was so strong hereabouts that the 
nets and lines were often swept beneath the keel 
and in dangerous proximity to the propellers. 
Again, the amount of floating organisms was so 
great that the silk bags would fill immediately with 
a weight which strained them to the utmost. A 


few scoops with a hand net would collect a mass 
equal to a long haul through average ocean 

When I realized to the full the significance of 
this tremendous phenomenon, I determined to 
spend a day or two in following the current rip 
slowly along, studying it as I went. Within a 
half hour of our reaching it a mighty school of 
dolphins came down the line, five or six hundred 
of them, leaping and playing, jumping high into 
the air, and presumably feeding as they went. For 
a while their long-drawn-out front, with its con- 
tinual spouts of spray thrown high in air, looked 
like a counter current rip, extending in another 

For the first time I fully appreciated the ad- 
vantages of the many strange contrivances I had 
invented for reaching down or getting close to the 
water. The pulpit now came in for constant use. 
In the Atlantic we had usually to keep this affair 
high above the surface, for the Arcturus would 
plunge and dip her nose so deeply that unless it was 
swung well up, one ran the danger of being washed 
out of it. Here the comfortably roomy iron floor- 
ing with its waist-high railing extending all around 
it, was lowered until it was almost at the surface, 
and here with harpoon or dip-net one stood, ap- 
proximating the wonderful experience of St. Peter, 
at least in the early stage of his experiment. 

From the stern of the vessel the crew had a 
veritable portiere of hand lines baited for fish of 
all sizes from triggers to sharks. The gang- 


way was lowered until the bottom step was awash, 
while on the port side, the boom-walk was perhaps 
of all the most popular and valuable point of 
vantage. Here we could walk easily along the 
double duck boards, with a guardian boom on each 
side, to a distance of thirty feet beyond the side 
of the ship, and lie down or sit or stand, with as 
excellent a view of all that went on in the water 
beneath as could be imagined. 

I was astonished even before we reached the rip, 
to see logs of wood passing, many of them covered 
with an ivory mosaic of barnacles. Our pent-up 
energy had to find a vent in some way, and when I 
called out for volunteers to help haul one of the 
logs from the water up to the boom-walk, the in- 
stantaneous response together with the violence of 
the several attempts, warned me that this was the 
time and place where the static energy of my 
crowd was about to become transformed into 
muscular action. There is no precedent to be fol- 
lowed in the matter of getting floating logs on to 
boom-walks and so to the deck, and doing so 
without losing the inhabitants of the log. In fact, 
there had never been a boom-walk before, so it was 
anybody's method, failure or solution. Six of us 
began enthusiastically to collect the first log in 
the world ever thus to be gathered. As instrument 
after instrument proved inadequate, more material 
was shouted for and over the rail there poured a 
barrage of wire loops, boat-hooks, gaffs, nets and 
bags. One of the most c vithusiastic of the loggers 
dropped two poles, a gaff, a bag and a net over- 


board and then went over himself to salvage what 
he could. Meanwhile we had roped and wired the 
great mass, and by hanging by our knees and 
heaving willingly but all at different times, we got 
it up at last, dripping water, fish and crabs, and 
with a final shove heaved it over the rail to the 

I was afraid that all of the small people in the 
wooden sanctuary must have fallen out from the 
shaking and the banging to which the log had been 
subjected, but little did I know the clinging powers 
of these small beings. In the case of this particu- 
lar log they might all have come of the race of 
Jumblies, for boring worms had been at work on 
it, perhaps when it was a pile of some far distant 
wharf, and by their activities had made half of it a 
veritable sieve. The long list of passengers would 
be out of place here; suffice it to say that we got 
fifty-four species from this single log. No sooner 
had we dumped it on the deck, than those of its 
inhabitants who objected most to fresh air began 
dropping off, first a five-inch trigger fish, followed 
by some younger brothers, and later a swarm of 
little blennies to whom the log must have meant 
much. For these fish are on their way to become 
quadrupeds of sorts, and are ordinarily never 
found far from solid shore. These belonged on the 
coast of Mexico, ranging as far south as Panama, 
which gave us at once a clue as to the origin of the 
current flotsam. They skipped alertly about on 
the deck, going where they wished, not, as with 
most fish out of water, where their flops took them. 



fii 5 


























1. 5 





















At first glance they appeared black, but on close 
examination showed a glory of scarlet spots all 
over the head and pectorals, and maroon and sage 
broken bands on the body, with the median fins 
varigated yellow and red. Over the eyes were two 
long, lemon filaments, and a blood-colored Y-fila- 
ment at the nostrils. They looked intelligently 
about with their pop eyes, and lived through vicis- 
situdes which destroyed, all other fish. 

Crabs in multitudes crej)t about or were picked 
out of crevices and water-worn cracks. Some were 
pale olive-gray, irregularly mottled with maroon, 
looking like bright-colored conglomerate rocks. 
On the legs were sea-green swimming fringes. 
The ivory-white under parts never showed, as the 
crabs always scurried about with bodies held close 
to their pelagic island. Some of the forward-bent 
abdomens were cupped about a large mass of 
chocolate spawn. Other species of crabs were 
deep, Dutch porcelain blue, and one dark chocolate 
one had a big transverse rectangle of white like 
the sargassum crabs. 

The log reminded me of a large piece of fossil 
rock, such as I used painstakingly to hammer out 
of New Jersey quarries. Wherever a knot had 
rotted away, or a teredo worm had gnawed out a 
tunnel, the interstice or crevice was filled up by 
an animal which fitted as if it had been poured 
in, a kind of living fossil embedded in the dead 
wood. Especially was this true of enormous 
worms countersunk in every possible crack. These 
were seven and eight inches in length, with nu- 


merous bunches of curly medusa heads of reddish 
tentacles above, and dozens of brush-like tufts of 
white spines. 

Again and again I was impressed with one out- 
standing feature of the Current Rip, this un- 
charted zoologists' paradise — the narrowness of its 
limits and the sharpness with which these limits 
were defined. It was a world, not of two, but to 
all intents and purposes, of a single plane — length. 
From first to last we followed its course along a 
hundred miles, and yet ten yards on either side of 
the central line of foam, the water was almost 
barren of life. The thread-like artery of the cur- 
rents' juncture seethed with organisms — literally 
billions of living creatures, clinging to its erratic 
angles as though magnetized. The floating, drift- 
ing world of ocean life was, of course, irresistibly 
swept there, and this life alone would have made 
it worth a year's study. There is no stronger at- 
traction in life, however, than food, and here was 
food, manna, ambrosia, in stupendous quantity, to 
be had for the taking. Somehow the news must 
have spread far and wide, over and through the 
great lake-like expanse of this part of the Pacific. 
As each group and individual sensed the happening, 
another and still another one or one thousand, a 
little farther away, saw the eager start and in turn 
started. I can in no other way account for the 
infinite number of fish and organisms other than the 
helplessly drifted plankton which filled all this rip. 
It seemed as if as great an area must have been 
depleted of its larger, self-swimming, dominant 


creatures, as of the lesser, wind-driven, current- 
swept folk. 

These last helpless ones have been given the name 
plankton, which is appropriate, for when the Greeks 
used it, they meant Wanderer. Here we saw what 
must have amounted to many, many tons of these 
minute beings — diminutive crustaceans, both adult 
and larval, the myriad species of jellyfish and pe- 
lagic mollusks, worms, larval fishes, single-celled 
animals such as those which light up the sea at night, 
and my jolly little friends, the flying snails. W^here 
these are gathered together in numbers, there will 
the self-determined fish be, tiny little chaps who 
dash about and feed upon the living soup of the 
sea. These in turn, attract middle-sized fish, and 
these still larger ones. This would seem like a 
straight line — a linear chain of life, but it is, in 
reality, a great segment of a curve, the circle being 
completed when one of the great marauders dies, 
and furnishes food, not only for his former victims, 
but for the minute creatures that he would have 
disdained as nourishment. 

Although compressed within so narrow a longi- 
tudinal area, yet the slow procession of the won- 
derful fauna was far from uniform. Whether we 
use the simile of corpuscles tumbling along a stream 
of blood, or some less apt memory, the nodes 
in the line of life were the logs and other debris. 
The number and diversity of these were beyond 
belief, and I longed for a botanist to identify them 
all and perhaps to tell from what exact coastal or 
river forest or jungle they had drifted. Of one 


thing I was certain — all were tropical. None had 
come from more temperate regions, borne along on 
that Humboldt Current of which as yet we had 
found no trace. I remembered the sentence I had 
written in my Galapagos book, sponsoring the con- 
tinental origin of that Archipelago: 

"As with my theory of tlie origin of flight through Te- 
trapteryx and my classification of Phasianidae by tail 
moult, so with all my points of view which in our present 
state of knowledge must be wholly or in part theories, 
I hold them in readiness to be relinquished at the first 
hint of better proof on the opposite side," 

and wondered whether this Current Rip must be the 
opening wedge to relinquishment. It was power- 
ful evidence for the opposition — those who held 
that the Galapagos had always been isolated 
islands, planted and populated by the accidents 
of drifting seeds and transported insects, birds and 
reptiles. Here I was, just about half-way between 
the outermost headland of Panama, and the out- 
lying island of the Galapagos, and, passing slowly 
but steadily to the southwest, was floating jet- 
sam of a size sufficient to support any member of 
the Galapagos fauna, jetsam laden also with seeds 
and sprouted plants enough to suit an island- 
favoring botanist. Within an hour, there passed 
log after log, sticks and solid pieces of wood, be- 
sides three bits of wreckage from ships. I noticed 
a forty-foot Cecropia, six inches through, bamboos 
up to five inches diameter, and soft, pine-like wood, 


besides sections of palm trunks and a cocoanut in 
the husk — all rotten, all alive with living creatures 
catching a ride. During my stay, I made a list 
of thirty-eight species of trees, plants and seeds, 
and of thirty-two of whose identification I could 
be reasonably certain, not a single one is to be 
found in an exhaustive list of the flora of the 
Galapagos. Either this marvellous Current Rip is 
a recent phenomenon, dependent in some way 
upon the inexplicable shifting or absence of the 
true Humboldt Current, or its course, beyond 
where I could see it, was deflected. Both, indeed, 
may have been true, but of the former I have no 
means of judging. To anticipate our movements, 
I may state that after remaining and studying the 
rip for two full days and nights, I followed it for 
several score miles, and, as I shall narrate, saw it 
turn steadily northward, until, at 2° 8' North 
Latitude, and 86° 4' West Longitude it was 
headed west by north, by one-quarter north. If 
it only maintained this direction it would clear the 
northernmost island of the main group of the 
Galapagos by one hundred and fifty miles, and 
even the most northern of all, the isolated speck 
of Culpepper, would be a full hundred miles south 
of the influence of this log-rolling current wall. 
So, at least from this angle, my theory is still 
perfectly tenable. 

Four large sharks loitered around the ship in 
most deliberate fashion, and there was a wild 
scurry for harpoons. John Tee- Van, descending 
to the pulpit, brandished one of the weapons to 


an accompaniment of jeers from his observers. 
They discovered, however, that it is not safe to 
predict failure merely from the premise that the 
venturer is an amateur. With as much precision 
as though he had made a life-long study of har- 
pooning, he hurled the spear not only into, but 
straight through the shark and the half-hour 
struggle to hold the creature was sufficiently ex- 
citing to satisfy the most exigent of big-game fish- 

The other three sharks were not alarmed by the 
fate of the first. They lingered on the scene of 
his disaster, and from the boom we paid out string 
with pieces of meat for bait. They came as easily 
to this toll as a donkey following a proffered car- 
rot and by pulling in the tempting morsel two feet 
in front of the eager blunt snouts, we brought them 
to the surface directly under our feet, so that we 
could watch the movements of the brilliant blue 
pilotfish, that, with uncanny prescience, antici- 
pated every movement of their huge patrons. One 
of the big fellows had three of these little satelhtes 
that unfailingly held their formation, one just 
above his head, the other two in perfect alignment 
a few inches in front of his jaws. So exactly 
synchronized are the movements of such a marine 
galaxy, that it is impossible to tell whether the 
shark follows the pilotfish, or the pilotfish the 
shark. It is evidently a profitable arrangement for 
the pilots, since we meet with few cases of philan- 
thropy in marine life, and whether they actually 
lead the sharks to food, or are merely hopeful 


hangers-on, at any rate they must benefit by the 
crumbs that fall from the sea- wolves' table. 

The sharks had even more literal hangers-on, in 
the persons of the shark suckers. The big fish can 
seldom be lonely, for there is scarcely a shark to 
be found without at least one of these pseudo-para- 
sitic attendants, known as Remora or Echeneis. 
Clinging with the great sucker which has, in some 
way, evolved from the dorsal fin, these strange 
creatures can slip at will over the whole of the 
shark's body. When their host is hooked, they cling 
until the very moment when he is drawn into the air. 
Then, realizing that the worst has definitely hap- 
pened, with an admirable expediency they desert, 
not the sinking, but the rising ship, and hurry away 
to find some less unlucky means of transport, 
whether shark, or, it may be, some other great fish 
or a turtle. We took two Reinora with hook and 
line, which is rather unusual. 

Late in the afternoon of our first day in the 
rip when we had stopped in order to take tempera- 
tures, I was looking down from the bridge when 
I suddenly saw a sea snake swimming in small 
circles and drifting slowly along. It recalled the 
last meeting I had with these real sea serpents 
— when I balanced in the bow of a sampan in the 
swift running tide of Penang. A Chinaman 
steadied the boat for me with his long sweeps, 
while I dipped up various desirable creatures as 
they swept past on the current. As I had no 
bottle or bag of sufficient size I carefully avoided 
the sea snakes which were swimming past, literally 


in hundreds. They were brilhant m color, oHve 
green above, with many, broad, yellow cross bands, 
about as protectively colored as yellow daisy 
blossoms in a green field. 

I knew they were also found in the eastern 
Pacific but had not seen them here before, and I 
keenly wished to capture this one. Two of 
our small boats which were overside, were too far 
away to understand our frantic signals, so, handi- 
capped by the thermometer line being out, all we 
could do was to hope that the reptile would drift 
down on the ship. Luck was with us, for while 
we watched breathlessly, our first sea snake 
writhed so close under the boom-walk that we were 
able to scoop it up with a long-handled net. Be- 
fore the net closed over it, it seemed to be biting 
at a part of the body where I could see a small 
white spot. 

I seized it back of the head and dropped it into 
an aquarium, taking considerable care in the pro- 
cess as these are as poisonous as any of the veno- 
mous terrestrial species. It did not struggle much 
or seem to have the strength which a snake of its 
size — almost three feet long — should have. From 
the water of the tank it lifted only the head and 
neck, and showed no interest in its new environ- 
ment. This lethargy was doubtless due to two 
severe bites which it had received from some foe. 
At one of these it had itself been striking, prob- 
ably in unreasoning irritation at the pain. It had 
several patches of good-sized barnacles along the 
body, and some small ones even on the crown and 


chin. Nothing with a scaly or a hard skin seems 
safe from these omnipresent crustaceans. I once 
thought that after they had gro^vn for a time, they 
must set up a certain amount of irritation, but I 
have removed barnacles of good size from fish, 
without finding any trace of lesions. Here too, 
when I scraped a few off, neither in surface or 
pigment was there any alteration noticeable from 
the normal. 

I had this Hydrus painted, photographed, and 
his method of swimming studied, then chloro- 
formed him to put him out of his misery. He had 
been feeding on two young Coryphsnas — the dol- 
phin-fish of the ancients, which we found so abun- 
dant hereabouts. 

This individual was quite as brilliant as my 
Malay species, but absolutely unlike it in pattern. 
The dorsal third was black, and the ventral surface 
and much of the lower sides olive-green. Between 
the two colors ran a broad band of bright chrome 
yellow. On the long, flattened tail, this latter tint 
dominated as a background, over which were 
scattered a number of large spots and imperfect 
bands of black. 

Besides the sharp keel to which the body nar- 
rowed below, and the paddle-like tail, these snakes 
are so intimately associated with an aquatic life 
that they cannot survive protracted removal from 
it. Why this is, no one has had sufficient curiosity 
to ascertain. Its breeding habits are said to be like 
those of the seal, as it is viviparous, and goes ashore 
to bring forth its young in the crevice of some 


great boulder. A large female was once found 
in such a place, coiled about a score of young, each 
of which was two feet in length. We caught two 
more snakes in the Current Rip, and saw a number 
of others which dived at our approach. Without 
exception all we caught or saw were parasitized by 
the barnacles, one having twenty-seven clumps. 
These were all of one species, stalked, the shell 
being a delicate maroon with two Y-shaped white 
markings ( C oncJioderma virgatum ) . When I had 
several snakes for comparison I saw that the tail 
pattern is not only wholly individual, differing in 
each snake, but the pattern varies on the two sides 
of the tail in the same individual reptile. 

I started a trawl with several metre nets at 
various depths, and leaving directions for the 
Arcturus to revolve in a five-mile circle, I went 
overboard with John Tee-Van in a small boat and 
for several hours we rowed about in this astonish- 
ing longitudinal maelstrom. I cannot recall having 
ever seen so many living creatures in so limited 
an area in all my life. In the distance dolphins 
still splashed and sighed, boobies whistled by and 
dived like plummets, gulls and frigatebirds picked 
up bits of their choice with graceful, delicacy, now 
and then a turtle drifted past, or dived and 
watched us from beneath our keel. 

Sharks occasionally swam by, and twice, by in- 
tention or accident, one bumped into our skiff. 
Later in the afternoon when Dr. Gregory was out, 
a big shark followed his boat persistently, circling 
often, and repeatedly bumped so hard against the 

Fig. 14. — Glaucus. 
An ultramarine sea-snail without a shell, living at the surface. 

Fig. 15. — Paper Nautilus. 
A cousin of the Octopus which lives in a delicate, tissue paper shell. 

Fig. 16. — Eggs of the Insect Halobafes. 

The Water Strider of mid-ocean lays Its eggs on the floating feathers which have fallen 

from the wings of Gulls and Boobies. 

Pig. 17. — Life of the Current Rip. 

Thousands of living creatures taken with a single scoop of this tub. Most distinct 
are Jelly-fish and Floating Snails — Porpita, Glaucus and lanthina. 


boat that they were rocked and jarred, and not 
having even a boat-hook, they began to row back 
toward the ship. I never heard of such a happen- 
ing before. 

What looked like oval, thick, greenish cigars 
were floating pelagic anemones, mouth down. At 
the top a small group of white bubbles — the float — 
then a circular, dark-green, caterpillar-like body 
mass, below this a ring of numerous, short, white 
tentacles, and finally, at the bottom, the expanse 
of greyish tissue about the mouth. They looked 
like strange swollen green acorns, with a white 
stem base and white cup. 

Although I have said it before, I must reiter- 
ate that the teeming amount of life was unbeliev- 
able. Two dips with a butterfly net yielded half 
a pail of organisms. In one place the water for 
ten square yards was tinged with deep purple, 
thousands upon thousands of tiny salpas, each with 
its large nucleus. The most consistently abundant 
things wherever we rowed were uncounted myriads 
of small, rounded, pale spheres, which proved to 
be the eggs of some unknown species of mollusk. 

The strictly surface life was as teeming as that 
beneath. In the bubbles and spray strung out 
along the rip were hosts of oblong patches of finer 
froth, and suspended from one end of this, was 
always a beautiful purple-shelled lanthina snail. 
Almost as numerous, and often in solid masses, 
hundreds of the strange tufted nudibranch, Glau- 
cus — dark ultramarine above, shading into mother- 
of-pearl on the arms, and to ivory white below, 


looked like an azure-fringed frog, or some distorted 
fleurs-de-lis armorial bearing. 

Porjjita was abundant — those little floating 
colonies of animals, which I have seen even off the 
New England coast. At a distance they look like 
either quarters or silver dollars, according to age, 
but when I sit down in front of one floating in a 
glass dish, descriptions and similes pall. On my 
laboratory table is a beauty with a disk two inches 
across. I have seen unbelievably minute crystals 
of some rare mineral, or a thousand beams of sun- 
light radiating over still water which reminded me 
of this, but the delicacy of color and pattern are 
beyond all verbal or written appreciation. The 
center is yellowish gold, and from here to the per- 
iphery, about one hundred and fifty lines radiate 
and undulate. It is crenulated and waved, and 
the pale blue and dull yellow are inextricably 
mingled. The broad margin is deep, deep blue, 
and outside there are three to five ranks of delicate 
tentacles. Their long stems are beryl blue, while 
the rounded beads which double-line the tips are 
of the darkest ultramarine. Such is a hint of the 
beauty of one mote among the trillions on every 

Near the side of the skiff I saw a small white 
creature dart away, spread four wings with a black 
spot in the center of the hinder pair, rise and 
fly for a yard, then drop, and again make a short 
flight. It was so like a butterfly that for a moment 
I was too astonished to move. Then I called out, 
pointed to the tiny flyingfish and my companion 


caught it. If it had kept quiet we should never have 
seen it among the spots of foam. Putting one's 
hand down into the water was to feel a host of 
creatures, some visible, others not to be seen until 
they crashed on the vision in a dazzle of irides- 

In some old magazine of natural history there is 
a report of the eggs of Halohates, the water 
striders which live on every ocean, being fomid 
on a floating feather, but, as far as I know, there 
has never been a reconfirmation of this. In the 
course of our association with the Current Rip we 
found, not one, but seven examples of it. As 
we were rowing slowly about, I saw a long white 
wing feather of a booby, which seemed to have 
some strange encrustation. I scooped it up and 
found that three-fourths of the vane was clotted 
with a rust-colored mass of ova. I did not stop 
to examine this carefully at the time, as new speci- 
mens were passing at every moment, but put it in 
a small aquarium of running water. The next 
morning both this aquarium and the four succeed- 
ing ones were a maze of tiny skating figures, and 
the distended stomachs of the small fish in two 
of the tanks, showed that others than myself ap- 
preciated this discovery of hatching Halohates. I 
found that there were at least twenty thousand 
eggs on one feather, undoubtedly representing the 
united efforts of many females. Some of the eggs 
seemed newly laid and these would often overlap 
others that held large embryos. Under the lens 
they looked like a mass of tiny grains of rice, some 


tan, some orange in color. Two more feathers 
were taken later, and four large ones were seen 
passing, all heavily laden with the hemipteran ova. 
Outside the rip I noticed four additional lots, in 
the course of this trip, three on feathers and one 
on a j^iece of wood. Nine out of the ten feathers 
were white ones from the wings of boobies, the 
tenth was brown, probably from an immature bird 
of the same gi'oup. 

From the small boat on the same day we were 
fortunate enough to catch in a pail one of the 
enormous, smoky-grey egg masses, a dozen of 
which I had seen floating by the ship. In a glass 
aquarium it looked like some loose-textured sponge, 
with great openings here and there like the 
vacuoles in a sponge. The microscope showed vast 
numbers of small fish eggs — a small bit teased into 
a watch glass contained twelve hundred and 
seventy-six. I was greatly disappointed at not 
being able to rear some of these, but the aquarium 
pump went wrong at this time and these, among 
other specimens, were destroyed. Our curatrix of 
larval fish had better luck with a few in a dish and 
kept some alive for seven days. Certain charac- 
ters seemed to stamp them as young Coryphcena, 
but we could never be quite certain. 

The dominating fish of the whole Current Rip 
were unquestionably young amber- jacks or yellow- 
tails, the well-known game fish of the Pacific coast. 
These were present in schools of tens of thousands, 
each school keeping in dense formation, and mov- 
ing with that inexplicable unanimity which has 


made me so often use the expression, the spirit 
of the flock or colony, herd or school. There would 
sometimes be several hundred of these fish massed 
under the keel of our little boat as we rowed about. 
They refused all bait and it was with great diffi- 
culty that we secured two or three specimens. 

We had been less than a week out from New 
York when we discovered the value of the gang- 
way as an adjunct to night fishing, and although 
we had made use of this on all occasions, we had 
no hint of its real possibilities until now. At 
dusk, when the Arcturus was safe cradled between 
the two pressing walls of water, I had two clusters 
of electric lights lowered to the last steps of the 
gangway and focussed down upon a twenty-foot 
circle of water. To sit and watch the gradual 
concentration of the ocean life attracted by the 
light, was to have a very wonderful experience. 

The first arrivals were Halobates — the water- 
striders of the sea. Two years before I had found 
their newly hatched young in thousands close to 
the shore of Indefatigable,^ and today I had veri- 
fied the secret of their cradles. A hundred soon 
gathered and covered the surface of the lighted 
area with a maze of shooting lines. 

No amber- jack came, but Coryphcena was there 
in numbers, and we caught thirty or forty, all less 
than a foot in length, reflecting every imaginable 
color. This marked the beginning of the inevitable 
chain of reactions — first the small fry and then the 
small fish; next the outposts of the mighty army 

* Galapagos: World's End, pp. 83-86. 


of the middle-sized — the mid-links, feeding upon 
and fed on. After the Coryphcena and others of 
their kind had played about for a while, faint, 
ghostly shapes began to appear far, far down, 
and soon a shark rose to the surface, and nosed 
about to see what this new thing might have in store 
in the way of crippled or dead. The most ex- 
citing visitors — and they came in all sizes and 
colors — were the squids. In and out weaved little 
two-inch chaps, pursuing fish of equal size with 
such speed and ferocity, that when one leaped, they 
both leaped out of water. My net would slip under 
a scarlet squid, and in the length of time it took 
to lift it to my eyes, the net appeared empty, until 
a slight sag in the mesh showed where there lay a 
squid of pearly whiteness. 

A six-inch species placed in the big tank gave a 
most marvellous exhibition. From side to side it 
darted so swiftly that the eye could scarcely follow, 
and at the end of each dart, as it brought up 
against the glass side, it was a different squid — 
first scarlet, then salmon, rose, scarlet again, pink 
and the white of a moonstone. 

We had to have a clearing house, or rather a 
clouding house aquarium for newly caught squid, 
in which, as soon as deposited, they could empty 
their sepia bags. A big squid three feet long which 
we harpooned, ejected an enormous quantity, not 
sepia, but opaque, bluish brown ink, that gave off 
reddish bronze reflections like the skin of his body. 

If in the permanent aquarium with the larger 
squid, there remained by chance a hapless fish, a mo- 


ment after the first frenzy passed, the squid went for 
it like a flash of hghtning, seized it, and hugging 
it close to the heart of the horrid circle of arms, 
began to devour it, always beginning at the throat. 

A passing swell, coming out of the black night, 
would fill the lighted circle with a melee of jet- 
sam — porpita, ocyropsis, ianthinas and salpa, 
which, if you do not know them by these names 
does not matter, for if you will allow your imagin- 
ation full play, and try to think to what strange 
and beautiful beings such names might apply, your 
mental images will yet fall short of the strangeness 
and beauty of the reality. 

At a critical moment of the fishing, when we 
were keyed up for something great and weird, 
there flew into the glare a fluttering school of the 
little, snowy- winged, butterfly flyingfish. A vil- 
lainous atom of a blood-red squid shot forward at 
them and three flew straight into my net. Large 
pelagic crabs came and went, wine-colored, with 
purple swimming legs, eyes wavering on long 
stalks, and long, many-toothed claws, waiting for 
what the squids did not get. Half-beaks shot 
across the circle, as rapidly as the squids, and half- 
transparent fishlets showed first one, then another 
outline as the light and waves partly revealed 
them. The greatest surprise was when a very 
large silver hatchet fish, Ai'gyropelecus, floated into 
view. It was dying, as it had been badly bitten by 
some creature, but it was the first and only time I 
ever saw this richly luminous fish at the surface of 
the sea. Not many miles away I was later to take 


one in a tow net at three hundred fathoms, but the 
center of their distribution seems to be in still 
colder, darker water, about five hundred fathoms, 
two-thirds of a mile down. 

Nature loves contrasts, and close on the passing 
of the flock of white-winged flyingfish, a great 
creamy white shape appeared and vanished again 
far down in the translucent depths. Then it rose 
head first, a large shark as we thought, head- 
ing straight for the gangway. Just before it 
broke water, someone sluieked "It's a squid!" and 
at the word half the monster shot into the air, his 
wriggling tentacles seeming to reach for the row of 
legs that dangled from the ladder. A chorus of 
excited shouts arose from the four of us who were 
on the spot, an inadequate harpoon splashed harm- 
lessly beside him, and the creature dashed back- 
ward and sank out of sight. He was different from 
the other lesser squids, not only in size and shape, 
but in color, being a pale pinkish tan wholly unlike 
what any of the others could achieve by whatso- 
ever combination of their chromatophores. Hardly 
had we gasped out our joy, when in exactly the 
same spot he appeared again, and went through the 
same manoeuvers, springing from the water as 
though propelled by a submarine cannon. Allow- 
ing for every illusion of night, water, light and 
excitement, the most conservative estimate placed 
his length at eight feet, and the width of his body 
at nearly two. None of us will ever forget the 
spectacle of that long, torpedo body shooting out 
of the froth of the rip, the snaky, outreaching arms 


beaded with big vacuum cups, and above all, the 
huge disks of eyes which glowed like silver plates 
in the tan flesh. 

The afternoon of our last day, the life of the 
rip seemed, if anything, to have increased. Full 
grown Coryplicena played about, and now and 
then we hooked one, but they were usually too 
strong and heavy to be played successfully from 
the boom or the deck. Seen just beneath the 
water, they were a blaze of color — the body emer- 
ald, the pectorals turquoise and the tail clear 
yellow gold. Sea snakes undulated past, their 
golden spotted tails flashing out as they turned and 
looked up at us. Great turtles drifted along, as mo- 
tionless and as barnacled as the logs about them. 
A dolphin-fish leaped over one and darted about 
it, but the turtle looked only at us. Another 
Coryphcena dashed by with a great piece bitten out 
of its shoulder. I cannot imagine what enemies 
these high-powered engines of the sea can have, 
except real dolphins, unless they wage battle with 
one another. 

From the deck, looking directly down, we could 
watch clearly the fish which crowded beneath every 
log, or stick or nut. Big triggerfish, over a foot 
in length, often he flat on the logs, half out of the 
water, or jam themselves into crevices in attitudes 
most astounding for a fish. Once a twelve-foot 
hammerheaded shark swam slowly around the 
whole ship. 

We dared not go below for a moment, and be- 
grudged every minute at meals, for fear we should 


miss some of the absorbing tableaus and exciting 
events which were constantly passing on every side. 
Always the key to the meaning of the actions and 
reactions lay in the complex inter-relationships of 
all these myriads of living beings. We were trawl- 
ing slowly ahead, and bore down on a small log on 
which was perched a booby, a big fellow in brown, 
with pink bill and greenish feet and legs. Just 
before our bow upset his raft, he ejected three fish, 
each at least eight inches long, and so recently 
swallowed that they seemed still living. Immedi- 
ately every fish under the log dashed at this sudden 
appearance of food, and for yards around the ex- 
citement spread and spread. Meanwhile the 
booby, lightened by the discarded ballast, flew off, 
spattering the water with his great webs for a few 
yards, and followed eagerly a little way by the 
hammerhead and several dolphin-fish. 

Just after this we caught a Coryphcena from the 
boom-walk which weighed thirty-two pounds and 
as completely disintegrated the white sunlight to 
our eyes as any prism which ever reflected a spec- 
trum. From its gills I took twenty-five parasitic 
crustaceans, of which half were in turn parasitized 
by pinkish goose barnacles. And this great fish 
had been feeding on the most beautiful sea-shell 
in the world — a dozen paper nautilus, all uncrushed 
and unharmed, with their little argonaut owners. 

Three times on this last day great areas of the 
water were colored a deep purple by incredible 
numbers of delicate jellyfish, and again a yellow 
stain was spread over a hundred yards of surface, 


Cypselurus furcatus (MITCHILL) ^ , 

yarus, aiid Young specimen 

liajj (Twice natural size) 

ou \ 


in the world .. 
and unliarmed, w 
Three times '"• 

,y^x.. of delici 





— billions and trillions of microscopic creatures 
manifest to us only by a tint. I fished up a many- 
branched bamboo tree-top about twelve feet long, 
which, for many seasons, must have waved in the 
breeze fifty feet in the air in some distant jungle. 
Now its slender side branches all seemed in full 
flower, tipped and beaded with a myriad ivory barn- 
acle cups, swaying on their little stems, the whole 
looking for all the world like a gigantic spray 
from a Japanese cherry-tree in April. 

As to the physical reactions of my great Cur- 
rent Rip, at five-thirty on the afternoon of the first 
day we steamed into the center, faced eastward, 
which was up wind and up current, and there lay 
all night. During that time we drifted eleven miles 
to the west, the current being about one and three- 
tenths knots, and we turned completely around 
twice, but never left the heart of the rip. We rolled 
slightly all night and three times I was awakened 
by what sounded like breakers, which proved to 
be the rip near by, the sea in the distance showing 
calm and quiet in the moonlight. 

During two days we repeated this experience 
three times, with the invariable result of swinging 
up wind and current, then vibrating slightly from 
side to side as first one, then the other current 
pushed us toward the dead center. I tested the 
temperature a quarter of a mile on each side of the 
central line, and found that the southern current 
was four degrees colder at the surface, and two 
degrees as far down as five hundred metres. The 
current on the south side flowed about two and 


a half knots, and that on the northern side one 
and one-half knots. 

The orientation of our mean position in the rip 

South from Cocos — 210 miles 
Southwest from Panama — 400 miles 
West from Ecuador — 340 miles 
Northeast from Tower Island — 300 miles 

The trend of the rip on April first in 2° 5' 
North Latitude, and 85° 53' West Longitude, was 
southwest by west one-half west (242), and by 
the afternoon of April second in 2° 8' North 
Latitude, and 86° 4' West Longitude, had swung 
to west by north one-half north (285), a shift of 
forty-two degrees to the northward. 

The last view I had of the rip was a dramatic 
and memorable one; five great, red-footed boobies 
perched close together on a floating log. Four 
were in the white adult plumage, and the fifth still 
in immature brown. They paid no attention to 
us, although they were less than fifty feet away, 
doubtless considering the Arcturus merely a log 
of greater size, and us, marooned fellow birds. As 
I watched, the fin of a gigantic shark circled close 
to the log, passing completely around it four times. 
The birds paid no more attention to this than to us. 
Slowly they drifted past and the sunset stained 
their feathers a delicate salmon ; then night and dis- 
tance swallowed them up, and I shall never know 
more, either of the satisfying of the appetite of the 
shark, nor the slumber and dreams of the sea birds. 



I AM twenty feet under water with a huge copper 
hehnet on my head, tilting with my trident against 
an olive-green grouper over a yard long, who is 
much too fearless and inquisitive for my liking. 
Not until I have pricked him sharply with the 
grains does he leave off nosing my legs with his 
mean jaws and efficient teeth. It suddenly occurs 
to me how knightlike I am as far as the metal casque 
goes, and then in spite of the strange world all 
about, my mind goes back to the long-ago 
Christmases when a new-published Henty book was 
an invariable and almost the best gift. I instantly 
know that if ever I succeed in shackling these div- 
ings to mere, awkward words it must be called 
"With Helmet and Hose," and if any modern boy, 
grown-up or gentle reader does not know why, ex- 
planations will do no good. 

I wi:h I could credit my present passionate en- 
thusiasm for diving beneath strange tropical waters 
to a life-long suppressed desire — an idee jioce which 
would not be gainsaid. But unfortunately this is 
not so. My only excuse is that I suffer intermit- 



tently from what my artist once offered as a defini- 
tion of a monkey, a desire to be somewhere else than 
I am. , 

Considering carefully this whirling ball of mud 
upon which I found myself, I read in books and 
saw pictures of jungles and deserts, and my desire 
to see them was just a little stronger than the many 
obstacles between; I had breathed the air and 
watched birds fly for an unconscionable number of 
years before I began my first wobbly taxi-ing 
across a flying field. Since then I have left the earth 
under pleasant and unpleasant conditions over three 
hundred times, and, except twice, returned safely. 

Without shame I confess that I have lain awake 
nights and spent innumerable hours of my life in 
gazing at the moon and planets — nay, even at the 
Small Magellanic Cloud with desire and longing, 
for if one wishes to visit inter-stellar space, one 
might as well hold the thought of a passage on 
Tomlinson's route as on a mensurable moon trip. 
Up to the present, twenty-two thousand feet is as 
far as I have been able to rise above solid ground. 

Another realm which has always seemed as re- 
mote as the moon is the depth of the ocean. My 
reading and wishing never took any concrete, defi- 
nite direction until the trip I made to the Galap- 
agos on the Noma. Then I first realized the glories 
and desirability of the submarine world. This at 
once encouraged and then disheartened me — the 
encouragement coming from the ease of diving from 
a boat or a pier and watching for a brief moment 
the fish and sea-things, sitnultaneously with the 


realization of the futility of such a brief, blurred 

I inspected a number of diver's outfits one day 
and found nothing tempting in the enormously 
cumbersome suits. Then, just before I sailed on 
the Arcturus, I bought my helmet. The para- 
phernalia accompanying it were so simple that I 
doubted its efficiency, but at least it was an effort 
in the right direction of investigation of a new 

During the first part of the Arcturus adventure 
the sea was too rough to think of using it, even a 
few feet below the gangway, but when we moored 
close under the cliffs of Darwin Bay at Tower 
Island — our old Galapagos anchorage — I brought 
up the box from the hold and unlimbered the div- 
ing apparatus. The helmet was a big, conical 
affair of copper, made to rest on the shoulders, with 
a hose connection on the right side and two oblique 
windows in front. Around the bottom extended 
a flange on which four flattened pieces of lead were 
hung, each weighing ten pounds. This made a 
total weight of sixty pounds for the entire thing. 
The hose, which was of the ordinary common or 
garden variety, was attached at one end to the 
helmet and at the other to a double-action automo- 
bile pump, which screwed to a board, and was oper- 
ated by a long iron lever, pushed back and forth. 
Almost at once we elaborated a method of opera- 
tion which was so simple and satisfactory, even to 
the slightest details, that no change was necessary 
after weeks and months of use. 


Our regular mode of diving is as follows: We 
start out from the Arcturus in a flat-bottomed boat 
which has a square, eighteen- inch glass set in the 
bottom amidships. My regular diving crew is 
John Tee-Van and Ruth Rose and we three dived 
in many and in strange places. To the stern is 
fastened a long, metal Jacob's-ladder, rolled up 
when not in use. We are towed or we row to the 
shore, preferably to the base of cliffs or steep rocks, 
as that affords considerable depth close inshore and 
rocky places are beloved by hosts of fish. We 
anchor as close to the cliffs as is safe, and roll out 
the ladder, so that it sways in midwater or rests 
upon the bottom. The pump is in the bow, the 
handle fixed, and the leather washer carefully 
screwed in. The hose is cleared of kinks, and is 
looped, partly overboard. A hand line is tied to 
the top of the helmet, and the inside of the glass 
windows is coated with a film of glycerine to pre- 
vent the breath of the diver from condensing and 
so clouding it. The four lead weights are slip- 
ped over the flange on the helmet base and all is 
ready for the diver. A hand water-glass is near 
for constant lookout for danger, and one or two 
long-handled harpoons. 

In bathing suit I climb down the ladder over the 
stern, and dip to my neck, being careful not to wet 
my head. Then John lifts the helmet; I give a last, 
quick look around, draw a deep breath, duck into 
it, and as it settles firmly on my shoulders, I climb 
slowly down. The sensation just above water is 
of unbearable weight, but the instant I immerse 


this goes and the weight of the hehnet with all the 
lead is only a gentle pressure, suiRcient to give 
perfect stability. Meanwhile Ruth Rose has 
started the pump. 

From a blurred view of the water surface and 
the boat's stern, I sink instantly to clear vision 
under water. I descend three rungs and reach up 
for the short harpoon or grains which is put into 
my hand. At the fourth or fifth rung the air 
presses perceptibly on my ears and I relieve it by 
swallowing. For the first moment there is a muf- 
fled rumble of bubbles escaping, which I never 
noticed until I heard Ruth exclaim about it. This 
ceases as soon as the helmet is entirely under water. 
I descend slowly, swallowing now and then, and 
when the last rung has been reached, I lower my- 
self easily by one arm, and lightly rest on the 
bottom. If serious danger threatens or the pump- 
ing should go wi'ong for any reason, I have only 
to lift up the helmet, duck out from under it and 
swim to the surface. The level of the water keeps 
constantly at the level of my neck or throat, and if 
I lean far forward it gradually rises to my mouth. 
But there is no splashing, no sense of oppression. 

In most of the great changes or experiences 
which come to us humans, such as seeing our first 
palm tree or circus or volcano, the first reading of 
Alice, diving, a battle, discovering the method of 
complete relaxation or really being in the only 
Borneo in the world, it is not, as so many people 
think, the first few minutes which are the most 
wonderful. It is the subsequent gradual apprecia- 


tion which develops that realization of the wonder 
and the beauty of the thing close at hand. It is so 
easy to miss this almost conscious appraisement, 
and after the trip or performance or experience is 
past, we long for just one moment of the ac- 
tuality, so that this or that could be seen again 
and remembered more clearly. Before I started 
on my trip around the world in my search for 
wild pheasants, someone gave me one of the 
most valuable hints I have ever had. It seems 
a foolish little game when I come to write 
it down, but it is based on a very sound reali- 
zation of a great human weakness — the contempt 
bred by myopic familiarity, the absolute neces- 
sity for even an artificial perspective. It consists 
merely in shutting your eyes when you are in the 
midst of a great moment, or close to some marvel 
of time or space, and convincing yourself that you 
are at home again with the experience over and 
past; and what would you wish most to have ex- 
amined or done if you could turn time and space 
back again. A hundred questions rush into this 
induced mental vacuum — what were the color and 
shape of the wild blossoms upon which that pheas- 
ant fed? What was the sound of the anti-aircraft 
shells? At what speed did the lava flow? etc. 

And so, as I said, I swung myself lightly down 
from the ladder and stood on the bottom. I gazed 
out with interest on the rocks and fish about me, 
but felt a vague feeling of disappointment. I was 
breathing so easily; the water outside might have 
been correctly heated air as far as any bodily sensa- 


tion went; I was looking through a pane of glass 
at fish swimming about — exactly what I have done 
and seen a hundred times in our aquarium in New 
York. I felt only as if I were in a very small, 
strange, but perfectly comfortable room, looking 
upon a wonderful tank of living fish with a most 
excellently painted background. The shock of 
entrance into this long-anticipated world had not 
been as radical as my imagination had pictured* 
even although I cannot recall having visualized 
instant attacks by huge sharks, or the feel of the 
snaky tentacle of an approaching great octopus. 
The fact of my bodily comfort and the vivid mem- 
ory of aquariums all over the world had deadened 
the stupendous marvel of it all. 

I sat down on a convenient rock, shut my eyes, 
and recited my lesson : / am not at home, nor near 
any city or people; I am far out in the Pacific on 
a desert island, sitting on the bottom of the ocean; 
I am deep down under the water in a place where 
no human being ha^ ever been before; it is one of 
the greatest ^moments of my whole life; thousands 
of people would pay large sums, would forego 
much for five minutes of this! 

This was enough. I opened my eyes and saw, 
resting on a rock not more than three inches away 
from my face, the red bull of Kim. It was the 
strangest little blenny in the world, five inches long 
and mostly all head, with tail enough only to 
steady him in his place on the boulder. His long 
snout with nostrils flaring at the tip, his broad, 
flat crown surmounted by two curving horns, 


made him absurdly like a prize bull. He was dull 
scarlet with splashes of golden brown along his 
sides, which was well enough, but a bull does not 
have tatters and fringes of blue and yellow scat- 
tered all over him (unless we choose to consider the 
cruel banderillos as ornamental). My blenny's 
eyes were silver with hieroglyphics of purple in 
them, and as I looked, he puffed a puff of water 
at my window and was gone. 

I was quite reoriented now. The hardest thing 
was to realize that I was wet. It was the old storv 
of the value of comparison. All of me was wet 
and I could not reach up into dry air, so I had no 
sensation of wetness. I looked at my fingers, how- 
ever, and saw the beginning of washerwoman's 
wrinkles, so was convinced! I reached out aiid 
picked a starfish from the rock in front, and as it 
slowly crawled over my hand, I realized to the full 
that this was a wild starfish and not one brought 
from somewhere else and placed there for me to 
look at. 

One handicap, present at every submersion, was 
the impossibility of writing down notes, except on 
an awkward slate, the multitude of exciting ex- 
periences and hosts of remarkable creatures so dis- 
tracting my attention that my memory was strained 
to the utmost to recall a clear sequence of events. 
This I hope to remedy in a made-to-order helmet 
which shall contain a cheek pouch of sorts, to hold 
a little writing-paper roll and a pencil, in the dry 
air of the side of the helmet, at the left of my face. 

It was the morning of April ninth when I went 















.JT <» 

>^ H 

« u 








I— ( 




Fig. 19. — Making Ready to Dive. 
Placing sixty pounds of copper helmet and lead weights over the head of the diver. 


down for the first time, on a coral bank in Darwin 
Bay. I made five descents but recall very few 
details, because at the moment when I was ducking 
inside the helmet for the second time, I saw, a few 
yards away, one of the largest grey sharks I have 
ever seen, a giant of a generous eleven or twelve 
feet, cutting the water with his great dark fin. My 
companions did not fail to remind me of my noto- 
rious scorn of sharks, so with a rather sickly grin 
I went down. The dominant impression of this 
first experience was of the disconcertingly narrow 
field of vision — the oblique panes of glass in the 
helmet permitting only about sixty degrees. What 
I had seen at the surface kept my imagination 
busy with the keenest desire to see what was trans- 
piring in the remaining three hundred degrees of 
my visual circle. I am certain that from above I 
must have looked like some strange sort of owl, 
whose head continually revolved first in one and 
then in the opposite direction. 

It is idle to say that I, and I think all of us who 
went down, did not feel at first exceedingly ner- 
vous. It was disconcerting, as I have said, not to 
be able to see directly behind by a quick turn of the 
head, and until I became accustomed to the nib- 
bling touch of some little fish who was investigating 
this strange creature so new to its world, I would 
often leap up in expectation of seeing some mon- 
ster of the deep about to attack me. This stage 
passed and I soon felt perfectly at home. On the 
very few occasions when some creature seemed 
tempted to make a tentative hostile approach, it 


appeared to be the snaky hose extending to the 
surface and the constant stream of bubbles which 
deterred it. 

In the afternoon of the same April day I sub- 
merged near the foot of the great chffs, and, as 
I have described, disciplined myself into a greater 
realization of the wonder of it. I think my first 
surprise was of the constant movement of every- 
thing, not so much individually as of the whole in 
relation to the rocks and bottom. I knew of course 
that the boat was rising and falling with every 
surge, which heaved and settled in turn as each 
wave passed, to break against the cliffs. I found 
this same motion extended downward, with less 
and less force, until at thirty feet it all but died 
away. At present in about twenty feet of water 
I felt it strongly. I would be sitting quietly with- 
out the slightest tremor, when, gently and without 
shock, every fish in sight, every bit of weed or hy- 
droid, the anchor rope, the shadow of the boat, the 
hose and myself swayed toward the land. One 
could resist it by chnging firmly to the rock, but 
the supreme joy, because of its impossibility in the 
air above, was to balance carefully and let oneself 
be wafted through space and deposited safely on 
the next rock. There followed a period of com- 
plete rest, and back again everything would come. 
It was so soothing, so rhythmical, that one yielded 
to it at times in a daze of sheer enjoyment. Where 
the water is not too deep and the bottom is sand or 
powdered shells, it is evident that the great surges 
are not a simple, compact movement, for here are 


made visible little, individual whirlwinds and 
casual, separate breezes which twist the shell- 
dust about or send up clouds of sand about my 

In days to come I was to find the surge some- 
times a very real danger, as when at Cocos I went 
down in a smashing thrashing sea and was scraped 
and torn back and forth across lacerating knife- 
points of coral and poisonous spines of urchins 
until flesh and blood could no longer stand it. 
Like getting one's sea-legs it soon became second 
nature to anticipate the swell, to lean against it, 
to shift the balance, so that everything moved ex- 
cept myself and the eternal rocks. 

Now, day by day, occurred the accidents by 
which I learned how to do things, little by little 
relinquishing the ideas which, on dry land, had 
seemed feasible and important. For a day or two 
I could not understand why, during certain dives, 
the fish were so much tamer than at other times. 
The clue came to me when a rather heavy swell was 
running and I found that if I gave to the move- 
ment of the water, all the inhabitants, from gobies 
to groupers, from shrimps to sharks, accepted me 
as something new but harmless which the waves 
had washed in, but if I resisted the aquatic wind 
and maintained place and posture, I became an 
object of suspicion. This was the first of many 
radical differences which I was to find between the 
world of dry land and that of the under-water ; on 
land, to move is to arouse fear among the wild 
creatures, here I did it by remaining still. 


I walked or half-walked, half-floated, toward the 
cliffs. The rocks were almost bare in this bay, 
like those between tides, and the multitudes of 
lesser aquatic creatures were concealed beneath 
them. The water was quiet, and between surges 
was often perfectly clear, so that I could see plainly 
the cliffs rising high in air above that narrow 
straight line which marked the division between 
the two kingdoms. I went as far as my hose tether 
would permit and reached a boulder on which, the 
day before, at low tide, I had sat comfortably in 
the clear, cool air of the upper world. 

Turning back, I saw that I had become a Pied 
Piper of sorts, leading a host of fish which fol- 
lowed in my train. The sun was out now in full 
strength and no fish, however strange and un- 
known to me, could hold my eyes from the marvel 
of distance. As I walked toward the cliffs I had 
also worked a little toward the east and the view 
I had, as I turned, was of another slope than that 
over which I had come. The bottom thus far 
was not wholly unlike the cliff above the 
water, but before me now the slope fell away in 
a manner which was beyond all experience — a 
breath-stopping fall, down which one could not 
topple headlong, but only roll and slide slowly, to 
be overcome, not by swift speed of descent or 
smashing blow, but by a far more terrible slow in- 
crease of pressure of the invisible medium, whose 
very surface film is death to us. To detect a faint, 
colorless shape now and then, through the azure 
curtain, and never to know whether it was rock or 


living creature — things such as this made every 
descent an ineradicable memory. 

My range of vision was perhaps fifty feet in 
every direction, but for all I could tell it might 
have been fifty feet or fifty miles. The sun's rays 
filtered down as though through the most marvel- 
lous cathedral ever imagined — intangible, oblique 
rays which the eye could perceive but no lip de- 
scribe. With distance, these became more and more 
luminous, more wondrously brilliant, until rocks 
died away in a veritable purple glory. No sunset, 
no mist on distant mountains that I have seen, 
could compare with this. One had to sit quietly 
and absorb these beauties before one could remem- 
ber to be an ichthyologist. 

As I was revelling in pure sensuous delight at 
this color of colors, a small object appeared in mid- 
water close to my little glass window, and was 
instantly obscured by half a dozen little fish which 
darted about it, some actually flicking my helmet 
with their tails. Just as I saw that the suspended 
object was a baited hook, a baby scarlet snapper 
snatched at it, darted downward, and was at once 
drawn up into the boat. As I looked after it an 
idea came to me and I followed the snapper up- 
ward by way of the ladder. When the helmet was 
hfted off and I could speak, I expressed my wants, 
and descended again. Soon there fell slowly at 
my feet a small stone to which was tied a juicy 
and scarcely dead crab. I picked this up, waved it 
back and forth so as to scatter the impelhng in- 
cense of its body and as if by magic, from behind 


me, from crevices upon which I was seated, seem- 
ingly materiahzing from the clear water, came fish 
and fish and fish. It is far from my intention to 
give a detailed list of all of these. The effect upon 
the reader in this connection, would be much the 
same as my own sensations at this time, if, by 
chance, my friend working the pump in the boat 
above had suddenly dropped off to sleep. Their 
names, numbers, colors and habits are all set down 
elsewhere in a more suitable place — Zoologica. 

Even if I wished to speak of them in a homely 
way I could not, for most of them have had visited 
upon them the names only of the official, scientific 
census-taker, while the rest have no names at all. 
So Adam-like, I had to give them all tempor- 
ary names, until I could identify them, or christen 
them with my own binomial terms. It was long 
before I could disentangle individual characteris- 
tics from the whirling mass (Fig. 18). The first 
four fishes rushed for the bait — 

"And yet another four ; 

And thick and fast they came at last, 
And more, and more, and more — " 

SO that until I could shut my mind to the abstract 
marvel of it and my eyes to the kaleidoscopic, 
hypnotic effect, ichthyology gained little of specific 
factual contribution. I waved my magic crab, I 
may have murmured Plop ! Glub ! and Bloob ! which 
is what the bubbles say when I first immerse — and 
the hosts came. Within three minutes from the 
time when the crab first fell into my hand, I had 


five hundred fish swirhng around my crab and 
hand and head. Similes failed. I thought of the 
hosts of yellow butterflies I have seen fluttering at 
arm's length on Boom-boom Point; I thought of 
the maze of wings of the pigeons of St. Mark's, 
but no memory of the upper world was in place 
here, — this was a wholly new thing. 

Often there was a central nucleus a foot or 
more in diameter, of solid fish, so that the bait and 
my arm to the elbow were quite invisible. Twenty 
or twenty-five species were represented, and, like 
birds, they were graded with exquisite exactness 
as to correlation of fear and size. The great major- 
ity were small, from two to four inches in length, 
and these were wholly without fear, nibbling my 
hand — passing between my fingers but always just 
avoiding capture, no matter how quickly I shut my 
fist. Six- and eight-inch fish also came near, but 
were more ready to dart off at any sudden move- 
ment of mine. On the outskirts hung a fringe of 
still larger fish, hungry, and rushing in now and 
then for a snap at the delicious morsel which they 
saw their lesser fellows enjoying, but always with 
less abandon to the temptation of the moment. The 
tameness of the little chaps, however, was so as- 
tounding, that the relatively greater wariness of 
the larger fish scarcely deserved the name of sus- 
picion, not to say fear. Another unexpected thing 
was the rapidity 'vvith which these fish lost even this 
slight suspicion and learned to connect my appear- 
ance with food. If I dived in the same spot several 
times a day and several days in succession, fish 


would approach in numbers and investigate my 
hands and trident with much greater eagerness and, 
I presume, with expectancy, than they ever dis- 
played on the occasion of the first dive, before I 
had repeatedly tempted them with freshly killed 
crabs. I could even recognize certain individuals, 
characterized by some peculiarity of color or 

Before I go on to speak, even casually, of the 
fish themselves, I must tell of my second discovery. 
As with the crab baiting, and so much else in my 
life, it was by sheer accident that I learned of the 
possibility of spearing fish twenty to thirty feet un- 
der water. The first few times I dived I carried a 
powerful harpoon with a long metal handle, think- 
ing I could lay it down and pick it up more readily 
than if it had been buoyant. The big, green grouper 
which I mentioned in my opening sentence was 
bothering me, shoving his big j aws close to my arms 
and legs, so I struck idly at him, missing of course, 
and to my astonishment, he instantly attacked the 
prongs of the trident. Again I stabbed when he 
was broadside on and struck him so hard that he 
tore away with difficulty, whereupon he took 
himself off, and sulked under a great mushroom 

I remembered this incident and the following day 
had a special grains made out of three large, 
straightened fishhooks, fixed in the end of a yard- 
long wooden handle. This I took down with me 
and waited until my regular crab bait came sail- 
ing down. I caught the stone and wedged it in a 


crevice of the rock, where the crab was only partly 
exposed. The fact of the invisibility of the food 
made little difference in the swiftness and the num- 
bers of the arrivals. Their keen powers of scent 
drew them like filings to a magnet, and although 
only three or four fish could find room for a simul- 
taneous nibble, yet scores waited behind, or pushed 
and wedged themselves in, reminding me of the 
buffet at a supper dance. 

At last I decided to try my new weapon. On 
several former descents I had noticed a very com- 
mon fish which was new to me, and now there were 
twenty or thirty in sight, nibbling at the crab, 
swimming in and out of crevices, and doing all the 
things which are imperative for small fish to do on 
occasions such as this. They were smug little fel- 
lows, high-backed like sunfish, brownish-black, 
with only two outstanding features, — delicately 
beautiful bright orange tips to the pectoral fins 
and a white base to the tail. Twice I leveled my 
trident and stabbed, and twice I missed. Then I 
found a new point of balance along the handle, 
struck again, and had a fish caught fast — ^my first 
Pomacentrus leucurus (Fig. 21). 

And now my under-sea sprang a new surprise 
on me. Although I am a scientist and a hunting 
scientist, I hate to take life. Under the provoca- 
tion of extreme danger to me or mine, I have al- 
ways valued human life at less than nothing, but 
shooting down a savage as he is rushing you is one 
thing and deliberately spearing a fish which you 
have been watching and which swims about close to 


your face and hands in perfect fearlessness is quite 
another. However, one can be tender-hearted with- 
out being sentimental and if I need the facts for 
science, to complete the life-history of a whole 
species, I will shoot a dove on her eggs without 
compunction. I sympathize, on the other hand, 
with the Hindoo fishermen of the Laccadives who 
are not allowed by their faith to take life, and 
hence, when they have drawn their nets, they rush 
ashore and lay the still living fish gently upon 
leaves and moss. Later they return, and finding, 
to their surprise, a lot of fish which are quite dead, 
it is permitted that they gather them up to sell or 
to eat. 

So it was not with the unmixed feelings of a tri- 
umphant Neptune or a successful ichthyologist 
that I clambered up the ladder, and when near the 
surface held out my trident with the impaled fish. 
My pleasure in the feat was heightened when I 
finally ascended and found my fish swimming un- 
concernedly about in the well of the boat. As a 
matter of fact, a much greater percentage of my 
speared individuals recovered and survived, living 
and feeding contentedly for weeks in our aquaria, 
than of those we caught on hook and line. Almost 
invariably the tip of the grains would penetrate 
only the mass of back muscles, leaving quite un- 
touched the head and the vital organs of the body. 

I experimented with all sorts of methods, such 
as putting a bit of crab on the trident itself. This 
was a complete failure, for the fish would crowd 
around it head-on, and with all my efforts I never 

Fig. 20. — William Beebe in the Diving Helmet. 
It merely rests on the shoulders, kept there by its own weight. 

Fig. 21. — The Author in Twenty Feet of Water, on Large Coral 
Boulders, about to Harpoon a Rare Fish. 

Fig. 22. — Moorish Idol, a Brilliant Shore Fish of the Galapagos. 


succeeded in even touching a fish when in this posi- 
tion. It can very naturally shoot forward and back- 
ward with infinitely greater speed and facility, than 
move sideways against such a heavy medium. So 
my efforts were always directed at fish broadside 
on. This method of attack was so new to their ex- 
perience, that even when just missed, they darted 
aside only far enough to escape the thrust, then 
returned at once and examined the trident with 
deep interest. Sometimes I would scrape off a few 
scales and then these most astounding creatures 
would rush back in great excitement, and snap up, 
one by one, each floating scale, "getting a bit of 
their own back," as it were. 

The smaller fish were as easy to reach with the 
prongs as if they were blackberries fastened to a 
stem, but they were so small and agile that they 
slipped between and around the barbs. The easiest 
of all to secure were the medium-sized herbivorous 
fish such as the yellow-tailed surgeons and the 
gorgeously colored angelfish. These came inspired 
only by curiosity and drifted about me aimlessly or 
nibbled at the rock by my elbow. The sign of 
Cancer meant nothing to them, and their efficient 
poisonous spines or defence of whatever kind 
wrought a self-confidence which carried them 
through life calmly and without fear. I had merely 
to wait until they approached and turned their 
broad profiles when a quick flick of the wrist meant 
their transference to life in one of our aquariums — 
where they continued to live placidly and undis- 
turbed by any change which fate had brought to 


them. The number of the surgeons which I took 
was Hmited only by my desire for specimens or the 
capacity of our aquariums, for my capture of one 
conveyed no alarm or sense of insecurity, and when 
I again climbed down the ladder the chances were 
that I would find the remainder of the school in the 
same spot, undisturbed. 

The best sport was to be had with the brilliantly 
colored wrasse. They were among the most active 
and swift, slender and supple as eels, with an abun- 
dance of fins for doing everything that perfect con- 
trol demands. Two species in particular were 
always about, although never more than a half 
dozen were in sight at once. Nature must have 
relegated the coloring of some of these fish 
to an amateur assistant, for it was crude, blatant, 
and, judged by human ideas of ornamentation, in 
execrably bad taste. Yet as I saw it — a living 
organism — winding in and out of dark crevices, or 
twisting almost on its back to get a nibble at crab 
meat, it seemed rather an exquisite mass of palette 
splashes. The head was scarlet, the body, fins and 
tail mostly bright grass green. The head was out- 
lined in dark blue, and from the lips, which were 
solidly of the same color, five blue lines streamed 
backward, flowing in irregular bands through the 
eye and across the cheeks, saturating the pectoral 
fins. The whole green body was thickly banded 
with irregular vertical lines of an unnamable dull 
maroon — like thick heavy streaks of some awful 
rain or acid stains. The tail had a stiff, unnatural 
pattern, like a great scarlet H drawn crudely over 


the green. I was happy when at last I outwitted 
a six-inch green wrasse, and put him aboard, where 
he hved for two months, allowing us to paint and 
study him at our leisure. 

The other wrasse was simpler, but even more 
striking in pattern and coloration, and to the last 
defied my every effort. Twice I struck and marked 
them, and day after day the same individuals would 
come about as bold as ever, flaunting their scars 
and wounds in my face. One of these had two 
jagged holes well into his side, yet they apparently 
gave him no concern, nor interfered at all with 
his speed and control, and he easily avoided every 
attack which I launched. These fish were about 
five inches in length, bright tyrian purple over all, 
with a broad vertical band of sulphur yellow ex- 
tending down from the neck around the body and 
including the pectoral fins. While I was exerting 
every muscle to get him, I called him many names 
in the quiet of my helmet, but these are neither 
here nor there. 'No written description fits him, 
and until I return and with greater skill succeed 
in overcoming his cleverness, he can be called only 
the Yellow-banded Purple Wrasse. 

Armed with my crab meat I often sat and 
watched with my face close to the center of in- 
terest. The mass of fish was composed of a be- 
wildering array of forms, yet both here and in 
the other islands where I dived, there were several 
dominant species. On almost my first dive I 
welcomed with a shout — a shout which echoed only 
within my cubic foot of air — my old friend of two 


years ago, the blue-lined golden snapper, Evoplites 
viridis, which I then pictured in color/ These 
beautiful fish were abundant, and although many 
quickly gathered when crab meat was provided, 
yet as a rule, they were solitary, swimming about 
singly close to the bottom. One day in one spot 
we caught thirty-eight with hook and line as fast 
as we could pull them in, but none of these lived, 
while one which I harpooned thrived for many 
weeks. Most were six- to eight-inch fish, but 
occasionally I caught fleeting glimpses, in deep 
water ways, of giants nearly three feet long. They 
were voracious and when they dashed in for a snap 
at the crab, they often seized the entire joint of a 
leg which they swallowed whole. 

The little round, brownish-black Pomacentrus 
fish of two species were the most abundant of the 
four-inchers, and, as I shall relate more particu- 
larly in another chapter, were the most absolute 
home bodies, each living in his particular crack or 
crevice, from which he frequently rushed out and 
attacked ferociously any fish which approached too 
near, regardless of its size. 

Another field of work of tremendous interest 
was suggested when I turned over the first stone 
and saw the mass of life covering the underside 
and filling the crevices. I arranged to have a pail 
lowered on a rope, and squatting low on the floor 
of the bay I filled the pail and gave the signal to 
draw it up. Five pailfuls provided a tub of rocks. 
This was left standing in the sun for a day and at 

^Galdpagos: World's End, Plate V. 


the end of that time there had crept out an amazing 
array of interesting beings, — beautiful sea-worms, 
starfishes, squillas, hermit crabs, and shrimps of 
every hue, a number of strange larval fish and an 
adult formed, wonderfully patterned, quite fear- 
less moray eel exactly one and one half inches in 
length. This tapped a fertile and untouched field, 
providing organisms which cannot be dredged be- 
cause of their shelter under and within coral and 
stones, and not to be gathered by wading along 
shore at low tide, since twenty feet of water lay 
above them. 

The obliquity of the two windows in the helmet 
made it necessary to look out of either one or the 
other exclusively, when engaged in observation or 
work which required accurate correlation of eye 
and hand. Seldom have I seen a funnier sight than 
the earnest efforts of any of our party before they 
learned of this optical effect. Through the water- 
glass a pale figure would be seen crouched on the 
bottom, industriously picking up stones and care- 
fully dropping them about two feet from the 
bucket. After much hard labor, the helmeted 
creature would raise the empty bucket and gaze at 
it in puzzled astonishment. In imagination we 
could see the large question mark poised in mid- 
water over his head. Another labor-saving individ- 
ual decided to pick the specimens themselves off 
the rocks, and long streamers of algae and clumps 
of hydroids were gathered and carefully placed in 
the bucket, only to float instantly out and up to 
us, while he was looking for other equally buoyant 


specimens. Don Quixote's horse was nothing com- 
pared to the worker's ultimate idea of the capacity 
of that pail (Fig. 20). 

From first to last I could never guess, from ex- 
amining the bottom through a water-glass, what a 
submersion would yield, or even look like, except in 
the most general, superficial way. It was like 
judging a shore line from a ship with all the in- 
dentations flattened, all the coves and little bays 
concealed in the optical straightening, and the 
wicked, crashing breakers smoothed from behind 
into harmless appearing ripples. In many lights, 
the bottom, even only twenty feet down, appears 
jnerely undulating or paved with huge stones. 

One of the last dives I made in Darwm Bay 
showed such an aspect from above. I went down 
rather deeply, but very slowly, for I always came 
under the spell of the ever wonderful blueness of 
distance. It seemed impossible, even after all the 
times I had studied it, that invisibility or opacity 
of whatever distance could result from such a 
luminous medium. When at last I rested on the 
bottom I watched three white-striped angelfish 
chasing one another in sheer play. They drew my 
attention upward to where they were breaking the 
surface film, not far from the boat whose keel was 
bobbing absurdly up and down. The angelfish 
then curved downward, the long filaments stream- 
ing from the fins above and below, and giving the 
appearance of even greater speed. They rose and 
fell, circled about, turned on their backs and fell 
into nose dives as easily as I sat still. Finally, the 


emotion over, whatever it was, they all came to 
rest still high up in mid-water. It occurred to me 
that in comparison, our own world is practically- 
one of two planes, while this is really the one of 
three. It is fair to compare fish only with birds, 
and even birds need two perching props, and do 
not dare to develop wings or feather fins beneath 
the body, for, sooner or later, they must ahght, 
while a fish can live, eat and sleep poised in mid- 

I turned my attention from the fish to the scene 
behind me and the absurdity of my appraisement 
from the water-glass became apparent. I was 
standing a few yards away from a boulder as big 
as a cottage, and my heart gave a leap as I saw a 
curved flight of steps — giant steps like those up 
which I had once climbed Cheops. They began 
on my side at the doorless entrance of the sinister 
cottage, slowly encircled it and vanished behind it 
in a soul-stirring abyss of blueness, which, from 
a delicate shade near at hand, blued more and 
more clearly into infinite depth and space. I be- 
lieve that Sime would have loved this scene, and 
Dunsany would have deemed it not unfitting for 
the habitation of Gnoles. Toten Insel treasured no 
more mystery in its perspective than did this. As I 
watched, a bit of greenish black coral which pro- 
jected eave-like, began to move and crawl slowly 
downward, and with it went dangling things which 
I had taken for strands of dead seaweed, but which 
on this edifice might well have been awful stalac- 
tites or icicles of sorts. The octopus climbed down, 


hesitated, felt about in different directions, and 
then descended the steps, flowing along the angles 
like some horrid viscid fluid in animal form. The 
most active imagination could not have set the 
scene better, or found a more appropriate actor. 

But like the double miracle of the stars falling 
into the volcano the end was not yet. A mist of 
yellow-tailed surgeons drifted across the stairs and 
the dread boulder, and for a moment their calm 
matter-of-factness lessened the sinister feeling of 
the whole thing. A strong desire arose to look 
around the corner of the stair for myself. I was 
submerged so deeply that as I stood, I could barely 
reach the lowest rung of the ladder, indeed I was 
occasionally lifted a few inches from the ground 
as the boat rose to a greater swell. But I knew 
the hose was new and stout and even if I began to 
fall with that terrible slowness, as seemed easily 
possible to my imagination, I could surely climb 
back up my own string. One finger relaxed and 
I was about to take the chance when a mote, very 
faint and pale, stirred the blueness as if some 
wondrous tapestry curtain were troubled by a 
breath of air. 

The thing grew denser, took form and became 
concrete, and a flat, round-fronted head, lazily 
midulating, wound through the water over the 
steps, a nine-foot shark weaving along where I 
would have been a minute later. My common- 
sense theory of the harmlessness of these beings 
still held good ; in the last few days dozens of them 
had approached within a few yards of me, but the 


eerie character of this place had penetrated even my 
prison of copper and glass, and when I realized 
where my precious ladder would drift to when I 
relinquished my hold, looked down at my unpro- 
tected limbs and realized that I had not even a 
trident with me, I decided to go through life with 
the mystery of the stairway unsolved. The great, 
grey being, wafting along its hundreds of pounds 
of body by slow, gentle undulations, kept on and on 
until again hidden by the blue light. When I as- 
cended to a world of greater reality, I took with me 
the memory of the beings to which legend and fact 
have brought the greatest notoriety of anything in 
the sea, and the setting in which I found them will 
never pass from mind — the Edge of the Edge of 
the World. 



The first time I ever saw an albatross was at 
dawn far out in the Indian Ocean. It was that 
hour at sea when perspective does not exist, and, 
like the houses of a tropical coastal city, everything 
appears flat and on one plane. I was observing a 
small flock of petrels from the rail of my vessel 
when a lighter colored bird appeared above them, 
apparently of the same size. As I watched, it grew 
larger and larger, until, to my amazement, it joined 
the petrels, and in the same instant they were 
dwarfed to insect size while this white bird assumed 
relatively gigantic proportions, and I knew that I 
was seeing the effortless flight of an albatross. 

For years thereafter my eyes were always on the 
lookout for these birds. In southern seas and in 
the north Pacific one may hope to find them, but 
not on our own boreal Atlantic. A great many 
years ago, however, long before man began to have 
sufficient perspective of his ancestry to worry 
about it, albatrosses were calmly winging their way 
over our northern seas, and we find their fossil 
bones both in England and America. A vast 
amount has been written about their flight but to- 


day we watch them with quite as much ignorance 
of how they contrive it as when the first mariner 
saw and marvelled. So close to the water they 
skim, so automatically they rise and fall, outlining 
the unpredictable movements of waves, that they 
seem to possess all the secrets of white shadows. 
When we watch closely and less emotionally we be- 
gin to see the part which wind plays in the support 
of this relatively heavy mass of flesh and feathers, 
throughout the tens of thousands of its miles of 
progress. The albatross is never so supreme and 
relaxed and effortless as when it is coasting up- 
wind, but a breeze on the quarter is less sustaining, 
and when flying with the wind, frequent circles and 
intersecting spirals are necessary to attain and 
sustain sufficient impetus and altitude. This is 
the fame of the bird, and throughout history and 
literature almost every mention of it has been 
synonymous with supremacy in flight. 

Once seen and recognized, an albatross can 
never again be mistaken for any other bird; its 
great size, the unusual length and ribbon-like nar- 
rowness of its wings, the large, yellow, hooked beak 
— all these mark it even at a distance. The ease and 
lack of effort of its flight are deceiving, and only 
when it circles and encircles a fast-moving steamer 
do we realize the terrific speed of which it is cap- 

Albatrosses are usually classified as a family in 
the order of birds known as Procellariiformes, or 
oceanic swimming birds with the nostrils arranged 
in two long tubes lying along the beak. Their 


nearest relatives are the hosts of little black and 
white petrels or Mother Gary's chickens which 
abound on every ocean and are familiar in storm 
and calm. In fact it would not be far from the 
truth were we to call petrels dwarf albatrosses, or 
the latter giant petrels. Diversity in size is prob- 
ably as great in this group of birds as in any cor- 
responding assemblage of animals on the earth. 
Within sight of one another I have collected an 
albatross and a petrel, the former weighing one 
hundred and fifty times as much as the latter, while 
the albatross had a spread of wing seven times as 
great as that of its tiny relative. There has been 
much written of truth and of exaggeration in re- 
gard to the wing spread of albatrosses. I am 
inclined to agree with the words of Dr. Lucas, 
who writes of the wandering albatross "it is also 
the largest species, having a stretch of wings of 
about twelve feet — an assigned dimension of seven- 
teen and a half feet being either a great exaggera- 
tion or highly exceptional." In the Eocene, how- 
ever, there lived an albatross-like bird, which, 
judged by the size of its fossil bones, must have had 
a spread of wing of at least twenty-two feet. 

In birds so evidently related as petrels and al- 
batrosses but differing so greatly in actual size we 
have most interesting evidence of possibilities of 
flight character. It would seem impossible for any 
small bird to soar for any length of time or to go 
for any distance without actually flapping. I can 
recall no bird of small size which has this ability, 
while such past-masters of non-flapping flight as 


vultures, pelicans, screamers and albatrosses are 
all large and heavy of body. I have made over 
three hundred flights in airplanes myself, in peace 
and war, close to the ground and once up to an 
altitude of twenty-two thousand feet, yet the way 
of an eagle in the air is still, to me, inimitable, and 
always will be unless we can duplicate its great air 
chambers, the lightness and strength of its hollow 
bones, and the friction-evading plumage. 

The part which albatrosses have played in rela- 
tion to man is interesting. First, admiration for 
its flight by early mariners, and a sense of compan- 
ionship and camaraderie in its society in the deso- 
lateness of mid-ocean. 

"And a good south wind sprung up behind; 
The Albatross did follow, 
And every day, for food or play, 
Came to the mariners' hollo !" 

This feeling, ui the course of years, very natur- 
ally developed into an affection, and this, vitalized 
by the superstitious sub-stratum of the seaman's 
mind, increased to a resentment of any attempted 

"God save thee, ancient Mariner, 
From the fiends that plague thee thus ! — 
Why look'st thou so?" "With my crossbow 
I shot the Albatross." 

And I had done a hellish thing, 
And it would work 'em woe : 


For all averred I had killed the bird 
That made the breeze to blow. 
"Ah wretch !" said thej, "the bird to slay, 
That made the breeze to blow!" 

The extreme of ridiculous theory is to be found 
in a very old book by Wiquefort, who says "thefe 
birds are often f een fleeping in the air, entirely re- 
mote from land, with their head under one wing, 
and the other employed in beating the air!" 

There came a day when the homes of these birds 
were discovered, usually a tiny coral focus of the 
scattered individuals which roam so far and wide 
over the oceans. One island became known to some 
Japanese who had neither pity nor superstitions, 
and before President Roosevelt could enforce his 
sanctuary legislation they had starved or carved 
alive nearly a million albatrosses for their wing 
feathers which were sold to milliners as eagle 
plumes. Then sentiment and kindness again be- 
came dominant — the feather markets in our cities 
were closed and wardens appointed on the tiny 
islets, and if the desire which museums have for 
endless series of skins can be controlled, it may be 
that for many years these magnificent birds will 
continue to share this good earth with us. 

There is an authentic record of an invaluable, 
although it must be admitted involuntary, benefit 
rendered to man by an albatross. Some years ago 
there fell exhausted and dying from starvation 
upon the beach at Freemantle, West Australia, a 
great albatross. When found, it had a tin plate 


fastened around its neck on which was scratched 
the news of the 'vvrecking of the French ship 
Tamaris three weeks before, and the survival of 
thirteen of her crew on Crozet Island. During this 
period the albatross had flown over four thousand 
miles of ocean, too terrified by its burden to stop 
to feed. It was a remarkable incident, quite re- 
versing the experience of the ancient mariner; 

"Instead of the cross, the Albatross 
About ray neck was hung." 

Intellectually, man's relation with albatrosses 
has been less spectacular but of equal interest. 
Linnaeus, one hundred and sixty-eight years ago, 
first played taxonomic Adam to the albatross, call- 
ing it Diomedea exulans. Its godfather was prob- 
ably therefore the famous hero of the siege of Troy, 
but Grecian etymology provides a much more poetic 
and appropriate derivation, and it is pleasant to 
think of the albatross, whether winging over foam 
crests or at home on its little isle as being ever 
Dio-medea or God-counseled. In its specific ap- 
pelation Linnaeus was also happy for to the ordin- 
ary observer, the wandering albatross is truly 
exulans — homeless, banished apparently from all 
connection with solid land. 

It must be confessed, however, that Linnaeus 
made a faux pas when he was led to associate in 
the genus of the great-winged albatross, the little 
fin-winged penguin — birds as unlike in habits as 
they are in physical makeup — suffering compari- 
son only in their astonishing divorce from land. 


and their extreme adaptations for continued exist- 
ence in the air and the water respectively. One 
can readily tell that Linnaeus was a closet, or at 
least a terrestrial, rather than a sea-going scientist, 
for his contribution to the habits of the wandering 
albatross are, ''cethera altissime scanden^; victitans 
e Triglis volitantibus a Coryphcena exagitatis." 
But this bird neither attains great altitudes in the 
air, nor does it, to my knowledge, capture living 

In more recent years, as additional specimens 
have been secured, more and more species have 
been differentiated, until the family Diomedeidae 
now contains several genera, about a dozen well- 
marked species and perhaps twice as many more or 
less clearly defined subspecies. These latter dis- 
tinctions must always be checked up with the fact 
that there are several distinct changes of plumage 
from nestling to adult, while, like most birds of 
large size, albatrosses develop rather slowly, and 
in addition to this there appears to be an unusual 
amount of variation in birds of the same colony and 

But I shall get away from the spirit of this 
volume if I do not return to the living birds them- 
selves. Fortunate is that bird or animal on the 
earth today which has found an isolated niche for 
itself, where it may claim comparative sanctuary. 
And this does not necessarily mean isolation from 
a geographical point of view. It may be a gastron- 
omic one, such as the scavenger vultures have 
achieved, or the tough leaf diet of the hoatzin, 


feeding on substances which are disdained by their 
fellows. Or it may be an isolation from fear of 
death by dayhght, such as is engendered in bats and 
goatsuckers; or from actual low development of 
mentality as in the sloth; or an optical sanctuary 
such as an insect which in color, form and move- 
ment strives ever to be thought a leaf. But no 
more dramatic isolation exists than that of the al- 
batross, which, although furnished with legs and 
toes, yet for most of its days spurns all solid earth 
and lives its life between sky and sea. 

When I first saw albatrosses at their breeding 
ground I experienced a slight feeling of embarrass- 
ment, as if I were peeking through the blinds, or 
looking behind the scenes. I feel much the same 
when, in the rotagravure section of the Sunday 
paper, I see a photograph of some famous prima 
donna making an apple pie in her kitchenette. 
The voice of a chanteuse and the flight of an alba- 
tross are among the more wonderful things in the 
world, so much so that at first we hesitate even 
to think of the authors in relation to the trivial 
things of life. Whatever may be the case with the 
home life of a great singer, that of these famous 
birds shows the inevitable law of compensation. I 
have already courted displeasure in revealing an 
unromantic side of the Sargasso Sea, so I might 
as well continue and describe the gait of the Galap- 
agos albatross. Its progress on land makes that 
of Charlie Chaplin appear grace itself, but for 
sheer amazing interest, the courtship and dances 
of these birds vie with its flight. 


It was late in April when I completed my vain 
search for the Humboldt Current south of the 
Galapagos. After making certain that there were 
no signs of it within a radius of at least one hundred 
miles south of the Archipelago, I decided to steam 
north, and sighting Hood Island, anchored in a 
beautiful bay on the northwest side. As the 
Arcturus slowly felt her way toward the shore a 
flock of large black birds, swimming in single file, 
appeared off the port side and puzzled me until my 
glasses showed them to be albatrosses. Next to 
the active volcano on Albemarle this was the most 
exciting thing that Galapagos had offered on this 
trip. A few days after we had begun work at 
Hood my scouts reported that they had located 
the rookery several miles to the eastward. So on 
the evening of the twenty-fifth of April I made 
my preparations to visit them next day. That 
evening will not be forgotten by any of us for it 
was then that all the giant flyingfish in the world 
came alongside. 

As usual, after dark, I lowered a cluster of 
electric lights near the water, and several of us took 
our places on the steps of the gangway. Ahuost 
at once large flyingfish began coming, and we 
caught several hundred. Looking down on them 
through the water their bodies appeared a beautiful 
pale green, and the wings bright pink, but in real- 
ity they were steel blue and wine color. About one 
in every fifty had the wings densely covered with 
round black spots. Never have I seen such un- 
interrupted terror or constant fear. During all 


the early part of the evening we could see nothing 
in pursuit, no hint of enemies, yet the flyingfish 
dashed frantically about within the blaze of light, 
quite heedless of where they were headed. We had 
to be on our guard, for they would strike with ter- 
rific force against our bodies and the side of the 
Arcturus. Often such a blow against the ship 
would knock them senseless. Several rose and 
passed between the fourth and fifth steps of the 
gangway, so high were they able to rise from the 
water. Now and then there materialized a real 
reason for their terror, as a sea-lion shot into view, 
seized a fish and vanished. Far down we could see 
the forms of sharks — ghostly pale in the dim light 
— but none came close, except once, when I saw a 
shark rise and engulf one of the disabled flyingfish. 
These flopped by twos and threes into the small 
boats and in the morning we picked up over a 
hundi'ed. It was an astonishing and a memorable 
sight, few of the fish being under a foot in length, 
and in such endless numbers. 

Early next morning we started in the Pawnee 
launch eastward along the coast between Hood and 
Gardner Islands. We passed close to wonderful 
sea caves and could hear the swells booming into 
spray far within. At the entrance blue-footed 
boobies and pelicans perched motionless like guard- 
ian gargoyles and every available niche and ledge 
was filled with nesting noddy terns. 

Our course took us head-on into the great rollers 
and as I lay flat on the forward deck, the walls of 
water ahead looked like solid jade, — the early 


morning light shining through the thin emerald 
tops of the swells and tingeing our boat with the 
same color. Dolphins now and then rushed at us 
and leaped so high into the air that I could see the 
rising sun beneath their curving bodies, drenching 
me with spray as they fell back. 

Four miles beyond we drew close inshore, but 
had to pick our landing place with much care, 
and even in the partly sheltered beach which we 
found, the cameras and guns barely escaped a 
soaking, as we staggered ashore up to our arms in 
water. A walk of half a mile inland took us around 
an impossible bit of shore, through a growth so 
dense that we could see only a few feet in any 
direction. Everywhere we passed the dry beds of 
drainage streams, through which, after cloud- 
bursts, torrents must make their way to a lake 
which at present was a half -dried marsh. This was 
filled with mosquitoes, apus and branchipus fairy 
shrimps. Much of this end of the island was almost 
level, with occasional tall pinnacles or spires of 
broken lava which rose high and slenderly above 
the scraggly trees and shrubs. The going was easy 
as there was only a small amount of thorny mes- 
quite and cactus. Black finches and mockingbirds 
chirped and flew close to us, and rarely a great bee 
zoomed past. 

Suddenly in front of me a white head and neck 
shot up from behind a bush, and a few steps 
brought me to my first nesting albatross. After 
this we found them scattered about, sometimes 
singly or again in pairs, with or without an egg. 

















Fig. 24. — Galapagos Albatross on its Egg. 

Fig. 25. — These Albatrosses have no Fear of Man. 


Twice I came across an unattended egg lying abso- 
lutely in the open on the level, red lava soil, without 
the slightest hint of nest. Not far away were six 
pairs of birds sitting close together. 

Coming over a low rise of ground we suddenly 
saw the shore close at hand, and a most wonderful 
panorama to east and west. Two headlands curved 
around before us to the right, while straight ahead 
a third ended in a high arched natural bridge of 
lava. Everywhere, from our feet to the tip of 
the headlands, were nesting birds — thousands of 
pairs of olive-footed white boobies, with small 
colonies of frigatebirds here and there, and occas- 
ionally a pair of blue-foots. Galapagos gulls were 
sitting on their eggs beneath the arch of the bridge, 
and shearwaters swooped in and out of the foam. 
The boobies were well along in their nesting season, 
for the ground was covered with half-grown, 
snowy-white nestlings, which unceasingly snapped 
and squawked at us (Fig. 23). 

Back of the headlands and all along the shore, 
somewhat removed from the main mass of nesting 
birds, were the scattered albatrosses, probably a 
thousand all told, two or three pairs close together, 
or a single bird quite isolated. Some were casually 
resting, and these rose to their feet at my approach 
and waddled slowly off. But most had alreadj^ 
chosen their nesting site and refused to leave either 
the bare eggless space upon which they squatted, 
or the great oval shell which they kept so close 
beneath them. The difference between the alba- 
trosses and the other breeding birds, in respect to 


my presence, was very striking. The former 
watched my approach gravely and without fuss or 
sound chose their course of action. If on an egg 
they permitted no famiharity, but snapped with 
their powerful hooked beaks, and vigorously re- 
sented any advance. With a stick I gently pushed 
one of the great birds back until the egg was un- 
covered, then took it up, examined it, and replaced 
it, when the parent, with no show of resentment 
or worry, shifted slowly forward, opened wide her 
breast feathers and gently sank close down upon it 
again (Fig. 25). 

I am describing this rookery of albatrosses 
calmly, as if it was to me merely an extension of 
the myriads of nests of the other seabirds. But in 
reality it was one of the gi-eat experiences of my 
life, set apart from the rest of the rookery as 
Buckingham Palace is from the houses of Gros- 
venor Square. Here at last was the bit of dry 
land where these splendid creatures of the air 
deigned to alight and to carry on the affairs of 
everyday life. 

I saw one coming in from the open sea, steadily 
as a triplane, without quiver or shift or balance 
of wing. When over the level ground the wings 
were tipped backward — the under surface pre- 
sented as a brake, the legs lowered, the head held 
up, and with all its might the albatross bore back 
and began paddling furiously with its great 
webbed feet, seeking foothold as it taxied over the 
rough gi'ound. Slower and slower became its 
speed, and finally the wings half reefed and gave 


up their power. But the feeling of land was too 
unaccustomed a thing — the bird sagged sidewise, 
tipped over a pebble, half fell across one of its 
fellows, and turned over, rolling undignifiedly 
several times before it quite stopped. Then it 
rose unsteadily, gathered itself together and looked 
around, clattering its beak and shaking its head, 
doubtless, saying to itself, that the land was not 
what it used to be. 

I watched this bird and followed it for a consid- 
erable distance inland, but at its very first step I 
realized anew how far specialization for the air 
had gone. Flat feet, fallen arches, rheumatic joints, 
crippled limbs — all were suggested in its painful, 
appallingly awkward gait. At each step the entire 
body turned with the leg, and the whole head and 
neck swung around and down on the opposite side 
to aid in balance and in supreme endeavor for each 
succeeding step. I have never seen a more un- 
gainly, effortful mode of progression, and when 
thrown on the motion picture screen it arouses as 
much amusement in an audience as the peripa- 
tetic progress of Charlie Chaplin. Some day an 
epic will be written on the law of compensation, 
the most dramatic thing in nature — the peacock 
with its aristocratic, incomparable display of ex- 
quisite colors, and its Billingsgate squawk of a 
voice; the nightingale, embodiment of glorious 
soul-stirring song, with feathers of dullest russet 
and grey. And here were albatrosses, master 
fllyers, tottering miserably along as if each step 
brought acute agony. 


I walked slowly after my particular bird, sitting 
down to rest when it sat down, and trying to keep 
from laughing aloud at its frantic efforts to sur- 
mount the least inequality in the ground. A 
hundred yards were traversed before it came in 
sight of another bird which seemed to be its mate, 
resting upon an eggless bit of volcanic gravel. Be- 
fore the birds met, mine sank exhaustedly upon the 
ground, ostrich-fashion, and settled down for a 
rest. I squatted about ten feet away and realized 
for the first time the real beauty of these birds. 
The great hooked beak is golden yellow and the 
head and neck purest white; the entire body is 
freckled with wavy grey, and the mighty wings 
are dark brown. Over the eye the feathers beetle 
outward in a most curious vizor-like fashion, and 
the large, dark eyes give the bird a gentle, kindly 
expression. Measurements taken later on showed 
that these albatrosses averaged over three feet in 
total length, and eight to nine feet in extent of 
wing, while the weight was about ten pounds. 

As my particular albatross seemed settled for a 
while, I called on another bird about twenty feet 
away and gently pushed her off her egg. This I 
took for science' sake, salving my conscience with 
the certain knowledge that it would soon be re- 
placed with another. It was a beautiful thing, as 
indeed all eggs are, very broadly oval with blunt, 
rounded ends, and measuring about three by four 
and a half inches. It was white with a dense cap 
of deep reddish brown at the larger end. This 
color died out in a sparse speckling along the sides, 


leaving two-thirds of the shell immaculate. I later 
found that the contents made a delicious omelet 
after being carefully extracted through the tiniest 
of holes. I clearly remember the thrill when I blew 
my first egg, that of an Enghsh sparrow thieved 
from a mass of hay behind the attic window of my 
home, and now as I held this great shell in my hand 
I thought of all the eggs I had seen between, — 
those of pheasants in Tibet, junglefowl in Java, 
hoatzins in Guiana and hawks on the summit of 
Cheops, and I was grateful that the first thrill had 
in no wise lessened (Fig. 24). 

But my bird showed signs of continuing its 
promenade, so I hastily returned. A half hour 
later as I was covering my last bit of paper with 
frantically scrawled notes, it occurred to me that 
there are three phases in the life of an albatross, 
each of which arouses in us a widely different, but 
profound emotion; first, admiration for its superb 
powers of flight, second, amusement at its ridicu- 
lous gait, and third, sheer amazement at the elabor- 
ate detail, studied sequence and formality of its 
courtship and play. 

I had read accounts of this at other rookeries of 
albatrosses, but no description prepares one for 
the actual performance. My bird walked up to its 
mate which, in its turn, rose and faced the new 
arrival. They stood with their breasts about a 
foot apart. My albatross suddenly shot its head 
and neck straight up, the bill pointing skyward, 
uttering at the same time a deep, grunting moan. 
Its partner followed suit, then, alternately, each 


bird bowed deeply and quickly three times. With- 
out an instant's delay they next crossed bills and 
with quick, vibrating movements of the head, they 
fenced — there is absolutely no other word for it 
— with closed mandibles. Without warning my 
bird ceased and again shot his head high up info 
the air. Its mate instantly turned her head and 
neck far sideways and held them motionless 
and concealed from my point of view, close to 
the left wing and side. Then another double bow 
and a second bout. Next, both birds rested, look- 
ing quietly around as though nothing unusual were 
in progress, when the mate gave the stretching cue 
in her turn, and there followed a long bout of the 
fencing, this time my bird with widely opened 
mandibles, the other's beak even entering its mouth 
once or twice. For five minutes this performance 
kept up, when a third bird approached, bowed and 
engaged my albatross. This was only half-hearted 
however, and the third individual soon waddled 
painfully away, and the first two resumed the as- 
tonishing ritual. 

I walked over to the third bird and bowed 
deeply and to my delight it bowed in return. See- 
ing no rapier bill, however, it solemnly walked 
away, until I again faced it and bowed when it 
returned my salutation twice and took a step 
toward me. That, alas, was as near as we could 
come to an engagement, but I shall never forget 
my amenities with this feathered D'Artagnan of 
Hood Island. 

This intricate performance has been described 


before, and probably all albatrosses go through 
something of the kind. It is au fond unquestion- 
ably a courtship, but I really think that it provides 
some sort of pleasure other than this alone, for 
I have seen it indulged in by a pair of birds w^hich 
already possessed an egg, and again I saw one in- 
dividual go through part of it with at least three 
other albatrosses in turn. 

The sequence is not always the same, but the 
upward stretch always begins it, and all the phases 
are enacted by each bird in turn. The grunts or 
groans or rasping notes are sometimes frequent or 
the whole thing may take place in silence. There 
is no emotional climax. It begins and ends in the 
cahnness which the gentle eyes of these birds and 
their philosophical treatment of an intruder such 
as myself indicate as a deep-seated character. 
Fortunately it was a very easy matter to obtain a 
perfect series of motion pictures of the fencing, 
and thus to preserve what mere words so com- 
pletely fail to delineate. 

I found that the sole food of these albatrosses 
consisted of rather small squids, and this seems to 
be the case with all other species, although like 
gulls, they have learned that galley scraps cast 
overboard are delectable dainties, and will follow 
vessels for many hundreds of miles on the lookout 
for such manna. As a quite radical change from 
squid diet there was once found in the stomach of 
a wandering albatross an undigested Roman 
Catholic tract with a portrait of Cardinal Vaughan. 

When we finally left the rookery we walked up 


to two isolated, lonely birds, gathered them under 
our arms and took them back with us. At first, 
on the Arcturus, they suffered severely from sea- 
sickness, but when they recovered they ate freely 
and lived for months in the Zoological Park in 
New York, admired by a host of people whose only 
acquaintance with an albatross heretofore had been 
through the woes of the Ancient Mariner. 



If there had never been but one opal, one pea- 
cock, one sunset and one butterfly what glory of 
history and legend would accrue to each. Men 
would have sworn great oaths of promise upon them 
and made them into sagas, they would be the ultra 
similes, a religion might have been founded upon 
one. But opals are worn for unlovely reasons upon 
unlovely hands, the man-given name is often 
deemed more important than the god-given idea of 
a butterfly, and a sunset, if not less than an inter- 
ruption of dinner, is slighted because of the cer- 
tainty of another on the following evening. 

When a very wonderful thing comes into our 
lives for the first and perhaps last time, we betray 
our very birthright if we do not meet it with all 
the feeling and emotion and intellectual apprecia- 
tion which is our human prerogative. 

The Arcturus was anchored close under the steep 
cliffs of Darwin Bay — much too close for the Cap- 
tain's ease of mind. In late afternoon I leaned 
on the rail and watched the gigantic blocks of 
basalt catch and reflect the salmon and coppery 



bronze of the sunset behind me. Now and then it 
seemed ahnost as if they answered with a faint 
tinge of their own. I had spent much of the day 
in a diving hehnet, clambering far down about the 
lower reaches of these same cliffs, — in a world 
where the word dry is without meaning and where 
the shadows of sharks instead of frigatebirds fol- 
low as they pass over my head. Now, for a while, 
the birds, even the garrulous gulls, were silent, and 
the quiet of my ears lent more power to my eyes 
which scanned the aged cliffs. So silent, so dead, 
so hard, so immutable were they, that no continent 
seemed more permanent than this tiny islet in mid- 
sea. Surely, when the world first cleared its face, 
these eternal iron cinders were here — cold, motion- 
less, black as night. 

There was still a tinge of rich color in the west 
when I went below, to eat and work, and talk of 
things so unimportant to stars. It was long past 
midnight when the booming voice of the Second 
Mate broke into my dreamless sleep, and brought 
me on the instant to my feet, clear-thinking and 
listening, — the heritage of a myriad nights in 
jungles and deserts. He beckoned me to the 
bridge and pointed toward the entrance of the bay. 
Something was there which should not have been. 
If at this hour, on the equator, a sunset afterglow 
still lingered, then indeed had the stars turned back- 
ward in their courses. A sudden idea came to me : 
"A ship on fire?" The mate shook his head, it was 
too big a glow for that, although only a splash of 
rose low down. 


The next thought brought a gasp and a leap of 
my pulse, — a volcano! "I think so," said my stolid 
friend, to whose sailor mind land and sea were 
phenomena only to be approached, passed over and 
left behind. I turned and saw the dim loom of the 
cliffs above me — so cold in the starlight, and the 
thought of their beginnings took on a sense of 
reality; there might be beginnings today. 

Time after time I awoke and looked at the pink 
blur, and once a great shooting star fell slantingly 
into the very heart of the warm glow. It paled and 
vanished in the dawn. 

My first selfish thought was to stop scientific 
work, drop everything and steam swiftly toward 
the strange sight, — the exact effect of a fire alarm 
on a school-boy. Then I found good and reason- 
able excuses. The thing itself was well worth veri- 
fication, and the unexpected trip would interfere 
not at all with my oceanographic work. We did 
not wait even to hoist our flock of boats aboard, 
but towed them ashore, dragged them to the top of 
the beach and left them in the shade of the tent 

The captain said that the direction of the light 
was 256° of the compass circle, a bit of news which 
was utterly unintelligible until correlated with the 
more old-fashioned, visuable west-by-south-by-one- 
half-south. Eagerly I laid down a ruler on the 
Galapagos chart westward from Tower, and eighty 
miles away it came to rest on Albemarle. It 
touched the island far north of the five thousand- 
foot southernmost peak which on the chart was 


marked active, for reasons best known to the carto- 
grapher. It did not even intersect Narborough, 
which, exactly one hundred years ago, had given 
Morrell such a warm reception. 

On our visit two years ago to these islands we 
had hoped against hope for some hint of volcanic 
activity, with the same chance of success that a 
ramble through an old cobwebby attic might yield 
some overlooked treasure of the past. We calcu- 
lated the half-dozen historic outbreaks to see if any 
periodicity marked their occurrence, but all was 
useless and we experienced nothing but the dead 
cinders of a world's end. 

With the present incentive to hope we cleared 
Darwin Bay at ten o'clock and headed a little 
south of west, steaming slowly over the calm 
water. James was on our port side, Bindloe to star- 
board, with Abingdon and Indefatigable dim in 
the distance. New soundings between Tower, 
Bindloe, and James gave us data for our contour 
map which was slowly taking form in the Arcfurus 
laboratory, and a deep haul brought up a catch of 
strange deep-sea beings. On we went, watching 
clouds form and reform on the horizon, but never 
certain of their origin. Toward evening all the 
islands, after flashing the sunset colors vividly 
back and forth to one another, gradually withdrew 
behind misty veils woven from their deeper valleys. 
I put over a small net from the boom-walk and 
skimmed the surface for an hour. Then in the 
dark-room I watched the wonderful glow from 
the lantern fish which I caught — little eruptions of 


body fires which flashed forth to their small world 
signals for food, for warning, and for a mate. Then 
I went on deck and saw the mimistakable glow of 
the fires of earth, and with a great wave of emotion 
I realized that my "World's End" had become 
World's Beginning. 

All through the night we steamed at half speed 
toward Albemarle and every hour I went up on the 
bridge and focussed my high-power glasses ahead. 
From that same indefinite glow I had seen at 
Tower the eruption took form and size, and at last 
separate, gleaming lights could be distinguished. 

Not satisfied with a single wonder. Nature some- 
times takes us when we are immersed in the glory 
of some great sight and adds unexpectedly another, 
an auxiliary marvel for good measure, as a hint 
of the overflowing richness of the cosmic store- 
house. Just before dawn, when three of us were 
watching silently with all our eyes, a mighty shoot- 
ing star struck itself alight on the rim of our 
atmosphere, and in a blaze of white comet-light, 
fell silently and accurately into the center of the 
lava flow. After the identical happening of last 
evening, this appeared more than cosmic, it seemed 
intentional, and for a few moments I think the state 
of mind of all of us reverted to that of our distant 
forefathers, when signs and symbols and portents 
regulated all of life. When the possible combina- 
tions of the temporal and spatial arrival of a shoot- 
ing star be considered, it was assuredly an astound- 
ing thing that two such mighty meteors should 
have taken this exact course. 


The penalty or the advantage of human experi- 
ence in various parts of the world is to stimulate 
similes of antithetical relationship. I have often 
laid at anchor off a gentle land, and before dawn 
watched the twinkling lights of villages and isolated 
farms go out one by one. Then the grey dawn 
picks out the larger hills and darker woodlands and 
finally the lesser objects. Farm houses material- 
ize and from each goes up a twist of smoke, while 
that from the villages merges and floats slowly off 
as a unified cloud. Such was my introduction to 
the first volcanic eruption which I had ever seen 
actually come into being. Although the outward 
view recalled only such homely scenes, yet never 
was there absent from my mind its tremendous 
significance (Fig. 26). 

Before the sun rose, the shifting light wrought 
another small magic. The lights had gone, the 
smoke had curled up peacefully for a half -hour, 
when I began to see that it did not twist and thread 
up as from breakfast fires beneath chimneys — it 
billowed and rolled. Then the houses dissolved 
before my eyes and became conical mounds or 
smoking ruins; what might have been fertile hill- 
slopes greyed to cinders, dotted with the upright 
skeletons of tortured or dead trees. Another case- 
ment of the magic window of memory opened, and 
I was lying before a mud-caked grating with the 
Verdun sentry, looking out upon an identical land- 
scape: a few smoking ash heaps where once was 
Fleury, a cindery pile and a score of scarecrow 
trees in place of the peaceful beauty of Hadre- 


court and Douamont. Before this spell broke I 
went quietly down to breakfast. 

When three miles off shore we sounded in a 
mile and a quarter, and even when within a mile 
of the coast we floated on a half mile of water. 
In a fairly choppy sea three of us dropped into a 
boat. As we approached the land we realized the 
landing was going to be difficult. Heavy surf 
dashed against the cliffs, or rushed madly over 
half hidden reefs. Here and there were calm la- 
goons backed by mangroves, but always guarded 
by deadly giant waves. Up and down the shore 
we chugged, vainly looking for an opening. Twice 
I almost made up my mind to jump and let myself 
be washed ashore, but decided on a final reconnais- 
sance to the northward toward Cape Marshall. 
We passed deep caverns cut out of black lava and 
once a natural bridge stretched across a gap from 
which four sea-lions leaped down to have a look at 
us. A golden grouper snapped at our shining brass 
propeller, sharks cut outer edges with their fins 
about the boat, and once a baby devilfish as large 
as the door of my cabin playfully flipped one of his 
wings and drenched us with spray. 

As with all coasts, the capes and indentations 
were visible only when we were opposite them and 
hence we did not see a delightful little cove until 
we had almost passed it. Turning sharply in, a 
flock of noddy terns, pelicans, and some brown 
boobies greeted us. As I was changing motor for 
oars in shallow water a dozen big black groupers 
rushed at us and bumped and bit at the oars and 


keel. I have never seen such reckless voracity. 
From appearances it would have been dangerous or 
fatal for a man to have dived in at that moment. 
Bill Merriam thrashed at the head of one with a 
piece of canvas and it was torn out of his grasp 
on the instant. I j^oked at them with the boat hook 
and two seized it at once. Later a fisherman of our 
party caught sixteen here, — a good two hundred 
pounds, — on spoon or bare hooks, as fast as they 
could be pulled in. 

Before I left the Arcturus, I had very carefully 
examined, with my number twelve stereos, the 
whole of Albemarle in sight, and mapped out a 
tentative route to one of the largest outpourings of 
gas. At the outset I was handicapped by not being 
able to indicate or speak of the two great moun- 
tains between which the eruption was in progress. 
So I gave these nameless mountains the titles of 
Mount Whiton and Mount Williams after the two 
gentlemen without whose ship and generosity it is 
probable that this volcanic outburst would never 
have been recorded. The former is the most north- 
ern on Albemarle and its height is unknown. 
Mount Williams is next, thirteen miles to the south 
and over four thousand feet high, which is appar- 
ently somewhat less than the altitude of its neigh- 
bor. Most of the activity was along the slope con- 
necting the two mountains, the actual glow from 
the lava being visible in groups or lines rather high 
up near the ridge. But at hundreds of places all 
over the slopes were fumaroles, or cinder caves 
from which poured forth greyish white gases. A 


few openings over the summit of the ridge were 
high and large enough to merit the name of crater. 
Nowhere could molten lava actually be seen in the 

I chose as our objective, a place of active erup- 
tion about half-way up the slope of Mt. Whiton. 
We found landing an easy matter in Eruption 
Cove, after we had picked our way over the broken 
reefs of coral and lava which guarded the entrance. 
Lacing on high, hob-nailed, moose-skin boots and 
carrying nothing but two empty snake bags and 
a single canteen, John Tee- Van and I set out this 
bright morning of Easter Sunday on the worst trip 
we have ever taken together. I have lost more 
blood from falls in a tramp over the high Hima- 
layas, I have suffered much more from thirst in 
wild desert places of India and China, and have 
been more exhausted from lack of sleep during 
treks where there was no safe place to rest, but 
for sheer meanness and general uncomfortable 
travel this was the worst. 

We started briskly with a last call to Bill in the 
boat to take us off in three or four hours. Our goal 
was unmistakable, for the underground povv^ers had 
fired up and vast masses of billowing smoke were 
pouring forth. 

The going at first was not bad. We had landed 
near the shore of a river of smooth, black lava about 
a mile wide, which had flowed seaward between 
banks of a rough, sharp pointed, apparently older 
flow. It was astonishingly like an actual stream or 
sea of water which, in the twinkling of an eye, had 


been transformed to a glassy jet substance. We 
passed over ossified ripples and swells and even 
curving waves with breaking tips so tissue-thin that 
light showed through them in a thousand places, 
and a slight blow of my hand broke off sheets 
several yards in extent, which clanged down into 
the hollows like steel falling upon steel. Some- 
times we could pass dry shod like St. Peter over 
a wide stretch of calmer obsidian ocean, with here 
or there the fin of a shark or the head of a turtle 
protruding, or in a Jonahesque manner would chum 
familiarly with a mighty glass whale. Islands rose 
here and there, upon which perched great images 
of sea lizards and pterodactyls — all done in jet- 
black, molasses-like lava. It compelled steep up 
and down climbing, but was heavenly smooth. 

Our fossil river grew smaller and soon petered 
out and we had to take to the real scoria; hellish 
rock froth which taxed our utmost strength. 
Imagine, if you can, a brobdignagian ploughed 
field and we two tiny ants essaying to cross it. 
But in place of soft and yielding earth, this was of 
razor-edged, needle-pointed clinker, sometimes 
steel-hard, again crumbling to a depth of yards. It 
was reddish brown and, unlike the obsidian river, 
had probably hardened slowly at the very surface. 
All the enclosed gases had thus had opportunity to 
escape, bubbling and blowing the cooling lava into 
thinnest crusts and skeleton rocks. The metal soil 
of this great ploughing was piled in pinnacles and 
mounds, brittle, sharp as knife-points and varying 
in size from a needle to a house. 


At every step we crashed down through the mass 
as one might tread upon hill-sides of delicate glass, 
or we leaped unsuspectingly on a harder, steely 
stratum only to slip sideways or in turn bring down 
a lava slide upon legs and body. Often what ap- 
peared to be the softest turned out to be a solid 
boulder, and the consequent unexpected jar was 
more trying than a slide or slip. 

We clung as much as possible to the smooth 
lava and by going somewhat out of our way were 
able to follow a narrow stream for a considerable 
distance. But sooner or later we had always to 
plunge into the red porous chaos. In ten minutes 
we were dripping and panting. The unclouded sun 
shone steadily down upon the sea of metal and soon 
there arose a reflected heat like the blast from a 
furnace. We headed steadily for the giant, out- 
pouring cauldron well up on Mount Whiton's 
shoulders, reorienting our direction every time we 
climbed out of a furrow. Minutes passed, a half 
hour, and I realized that the simile of ants applied 
to our speed as well as to relative size. The coast 
seemed to recede with disheartening slowness, while 
the cauldron was as far off as ever. I decided to 
halt a few minutes to rest and found that even this 
was impossible. The heat from the lava when we 
stood still was unbearable, pouring up into our 
faces and scorching through the soles of our shoes. 
Even when we could occasionally find a smooth 
piece of lava, the stones were too hot to sit for a 
moment. I humbled myself and altered my ob- 
jective to a lesser crater half as far away as the 


large one, and after another half-hour's ghastly 
toil I again surrendered and changed the angle of 
our progress to the southwest, toward the nearest, 
smallest fumarole out of which smoke and gas 

Every two hundred yards we stopped for a mo- 
ment, standing and shifting from one foot to 
another. I found that even a square foot of 
shadowed rock yielded a welcome coolness to my 
boots and feet, but we could not squat coolie-fash- 
ion, for every breath of air ceased below a height 
of three feet. 

By the time I could distinguish the separate piles 
of scoria around my small craters and the separate 
jets of gas, the going got even worse, for now we 
found our path intersected with ravines and cross 
arroyos, the traversing of which was almost impos- 
sible. The last quarter mile I went ahead blindly, 
and when I thought I must have reached the fumar- 
ole I found my way barred by a steep, unclimbable 
cliff of crumbling lava, and far to the right a tiny 
spurt of smoke. Disappointed, I turned to the left 
and managed to surmount a thirty foot elevation 
composed of scoria, breaking as easily as crackers 
but of the hardness and sharpness of the steel resi- 
due of factories. Fighting my way just ahead of 
the avalanches of lava which I kicked down, I 
came out on a flattened summit, and went on ten 
yards farther. A glorious cool wind met me for 
a moment, then died away and the sun's terrible 
rays poured down, at the same time that twenty 
fumaroles in all directions gave vent at once to 


spouts of grey gas. Without knowing it I had 
climbed into the heart of the small, nearest crater 
which we had chosen. To escape the hot, terrible 
breaths of gas I stumbled forward to the eastward 
rim where four holes were evidently inactive. In 
a moment I realized my mistake and that I had en- 
tered the influence of some more awful invisible 
gas, perhaps carbon monoxide. The glaring sun 
became darkened for me and a frightful nausea 
forced me back to where the visible but less noxious 
fumes dominated. Added to this, the heat from 
below made the sun's influence seem almost benign. 
With my handkerchief over my nose and mouth I 
picked out several small pieces of lava covered with 
a whitish, crystallized exudate. Down one hole I 
could see a deep, rosy glow, but I could not stand 
the torture a moment longer, and half slid, half fell 
down the cruel, scrap-steel slope, and calling John, 
began our journey without a backward glance. 
We were too exhausted to do more than choose 
whatever way seemed least terrible. Now and then, 
from the summit of one of the dreadful furrows 
we could see the Arcturus — a tiny dot on the 
distant blue water, describing a five mile circle 
as she dragged a mile or more of deep-sea nets. 
Our drinking water was gone long before we re- 
turned and when we reached the shore we could 
hardly talk and were crumpled up with sudden 
cramps. I have had more than one strange Easter 
Sunday walk but never one like this. 

Two yellow butterflies, one large fly and a few 
spiders near the shore comprised the fauna of this 


hell-like zone, while a single, daisy-flowered, aro- 
matic shrub, and two half-burned cacti repre- 
sented the outposts of plants or their forlorn hope. 

As I lay on my back, half in the cool water, I 
heard the cry of a young pup seal, and in the cave 
of a tiny ravine just back of some mangroves I 
discovered the ideal nursery of the little chap. He 
hitched himself in, just out of arm's reach, as I 
approached. A hot breath of air struck on my neck 
and the quickened memory of the past five hours 
sent me quickly back to the coral lagoon, there to 
bathe until I left for the ship. 

After eight glasses of water and a bottle of beer 
my aqueous equilibrium was restored and I studied 
the shore with the increased interest of intimate 
experience. I had acquired infinitely greater re- 
spect for the details of what met my eyes. I 
laughed when I thought how blandly I had chosen 
yonder crater far up on the slope as my goal, and 
then shifted to the comparatively tiny vent so near 
the shore, and which had proved large and danger- 
ous enough to kill a hundred men in as many sec- 
onds, if they were to remain that length of time on 
the conical summit of the appalling gridiron. 

I sought information from the best authority 
upon volcanos and at the outset was delighted to 
find the entire subject accredited in a most techni- 
cal geology to a wholly heathen god of old — Vul- 
can. I felt that my own consummate ignorance of 
the subject was less reprehensible when I read, 
"For the present, volcanic hypotheses must work 
out their own destiny." 


Years ago it was a terrible blow to have my 
theory shattered of a molten world, around which 
stretched a tissue skin of soHd, cold rock on which 
we dwell, like mealy-bugs on an apple. With such 
a theory at one's beck it was so easy to picture the 
volcanic lava as simply flowing up through open 
pipes connected with this inner reservoir. But I 
have come to find an equal thrill in the more logical 
planetesimal idea, especially as it lessens in no way 
the possible number and extent of volcanic out- 
breaks in the future. 

I like to think of the incentive to these miles- 
deep activities as residing at least in part in tidal 
stresses, — in the same pull of the moon as that 
which uncovers my tiny tide-pools. The great 
craters of Mounts Whiton and Williams are quite 
dead, choked apparently with solid plugs of lava 
flows, but the major part of northern Albemarle 
consists of the scoria, whose slow cooling, as I have 
already said, allowed much of the retained gas to 
escape, and left exposed the ploughed rock froth 
over which we had to toil. The porous character 
of this surface has precluded the blowing up of cra- 
ters or ground in the present activity and has re- 
sulted in the intrusive type of irruption which I 
have described. The primary deep throat of lava 
flow must exist high up on the shoulder slopes of 
the two mountains, flowing thence beneath the 
surface, finding actual peep holes for the hot lava 
itself at scores of places, and sending forth the ex- 
cess gases and steam through a thousand vents. 
There was a nexus of at least twenty-five of these, 


each a foot or more in diameter, at the miniature 
cinder cone which I reached. 

The fascinating thing about the sohd earth theory 
is the action and reaction of heat and pressure on 
rocks. If we penetrate the earth below the effect 
of seasonal changes the temperature increases about 
one degree in every sixty feet. Hence if the air at 
the surface is 70° Fahrenheit, at a depth of a mile 
it would be 158°. Carried to the center of the 
earth, this would reach the exceedingly warm tem- 
perature of about 350,000°! But the check to 
this explanation of molten lava is that, with the 
depth, pressure also increases from the earth's own 
gravity, and pressure is an absolute inhibitor of 
liquefaction. So as soon as we have gone deep 
enough to obtain the requisite 2000° to 3000° of 
heat necessary to melt rock, we automatically have 
a pressure which prevents it. But when old earth 
slips and shrinks, and surrounding hard rocks creep 
and give room to uncountable threads of liquid 
lava, and when the six mile zone of fracture beneath 
our feet somehow achieves direct touch with that, 
three or four times deeper, and the old mysterious 
tidal gravity gets in its work, up comes the lava 
to stir us mortals to our very souls. 

So this is the story of my Galapagos volcano, 
which came to my consciousness with all the unex- 
pectedness, and appealed to my enthusiasm and ap- 
preciation with all the power, of a single marvel, 
— at least that is what I thought as I steamed 
slowly northward in late afternoon. The sunset 
was directly behind it, and as the change was 












































wrought imperceptibly from pink and salmon sun- 
set glow to the scarlet and white of the lava fires, 
the cosmic splendor of the whole thing was over- 
powering. Whatever the theory of vulcanism, how- 
ever learnedly we might discourse of lava and vol- 
canos, light and the sun, the dominant thing was 
that we had been brought close to the very begin- 
ning of things, — and this could not be written or 
spoken, hardly thought indeed, but merely sensed 
as one stood apart in a lonely corner of the deck. 

But this Archipelago, when it had once opened 
its heart to us who had learned to love it so, gave 
lavishly, with measure overflowing. As when to 
the volcano it had added the miracle of the shoot- 
ing star and then duplicated this on the second 
evening, so all the imagination of our company 
combined could not have foretold what June the 
fourteenth was to bring forth. 

This was just nine weeks later, when we had re- 
turned from a trip clear to Panama to replenish 
om- stock of coal and fresh water. It was also 
on a Sunday, when the Arcturus was again steam- 
ing along the shore of northeastern Albemarle. 
The sun rose when we were exactly on the equator, 
and the day broke clear and cool, with a strong 
wind and current from the south. At seven o'clock 
when we were all at breakfast, the wheezy, tin fog- 
horn sounded from the bridge — a signal that some- 
thing of interest was in sight. We all tumbled 
up to see a great mass of steam pouring out appar- 
ently from the very sea beyond Cape Marshall. 
For two days we had watched from a distance the 


gas and smoke from the same craters and fumaroles 
which we discovered two months before. They 
hung in a dense, sickly cloud around the flanks of 
Mount Whiton, lower and yellower than the clean 
cloud wreaths which formed around the summit. 
During the two nights of observation of our former 
visit we had seen several new vents of lava light 
break out lower and lower on the slopes. And now 
the god or goddess of Great Desires had granted 
what must have been a powerful longing in our 
minds ( I can answer for it in my constantly recur- 
ring thoughts) and after an interval of more than 
two months we were favored by being on the exact 
spot at the right hour; at last the living lava had 
reached the sea and we were the only witnesses in 
the world. 

The Captain had first noticed the white ascend- 
ing masses in the distance at six-thirty and thought 
it might possibly be spray thrown up over the 
rocky tip of Cape Marshall. Half an hour later, 
when he knew this could not be so, he trumpeted for 
us, and, bucking a strong head wind and a two- 
knot current, we steamed steadily ahead. I climbed 
to the rolling crow's-nest and in a wind which al- 
most pinned my eyelids open or shut, I watched 
the puffing masses of white grow larger. For the 
first hour there was little change, and I utilized 
the advantage of my position as from an airplane, 
to watch the surface life of this deep blue water 
five miles off the coast of Albemarle. 

Two or three large rays came flapping along — 
not the full-grown giant devilfish, but half-grown 


youngsters of the size only of an ordinary door and 
not a double barn-door. Now and then a sealion 
or two stood upright, half out of the water, gazing 
at us mildly, like stout little Balboas. The most 
wonderful sight was three huge Mola, or enormous 
sunfish. I had read, and seen pictures, of these 
massive monsters but this trio was the first in the 
flesh ; and what flesh ! They were devilfish stood on 
edge — oval masses, with tall dorsal fins, swimming 
upright, now and then veering enough to show the 
vast expanse of their vertical sides. I have seen 
replicas of their proportions in tiny half -inch larval 
fish which come sometimes in the surface trawls — 
unbelievably large around in proportion to their 
thickness (Plate III). 

When Linnaeus first saw one of these sunfish he 
seems to have exclaimed, ''Mola molliumr Mill- 
stone of millstones ! And so ever afterwards, even 
until today, "Best Beloved," every ichthyologist 
repeats the exclamation "Mola Tuolal" 

My recipe for making a Mola would be to take 
some enormous fish, of normal body outline, and 
chop it off just behind the short high dorsal and 
anal fins. Let these grow around the stump until 
they meet, and behold, a Mola. 

Nearer and nearer came the volcanic outburst — 
ever more wonderful and awe-inspiring. We 
steamed as close as we dared, then turned and 
circled past again. This we did four times during 
the afternoon, then lay off-shore and made a last 
revolution after dark. At each perihelion we 
brought to bear our batteries of eyes, glasses, still 


and moving-picture cameras, and time after time, 
as the curtain of distance was raised, we felt we had 
front row seats at the most thrilling drama in the 
world. The current and the strong on-shore wind 
raised a sea which made launching a boat unthink- 
able — a bitter disappointment to me, who would 
have been glad to take greater chances than this 
for the opportunity of landing farther up the shore 
and approaching as near as possible (Fig. 27). 

This was made doubly hard to resist when I 
looked along shore to the southward and there, 
only a few hundred yards away, saw the selfsame 
little mangrove-guarded cove where we had landed 
on Easter Sunday nine weeks before. The waves 
precluded repeating our visit, so we could only 
look with longing, and swing around for another 
broadside view of the new glorious outburst. 

As we came closer, the amount and extent of 
up-pouring steam increased, actually as well as 
from the apparent change due to proximity. I 
noticed that there were irregular repetitions in 
its character. First a tremendous spurt of white, 
billowy steam would rush up into the air, tumbled 
and tossed landward by the strong wind ; this would 
grey rather abruptly into a darker gas, then more 
steam, and so on. Seen dimly and at intervals 
through the steam, the high dark lava cliffs and 
levels showed for a considerable distance the same 
white incrustation of crystals which I had found 
around my fumarole on the inland slope. 

Seizing a moment when the crow's-nest was 
comparatively steady, I swung my glasses along 


the line of juncture of steam and water and saw a 
curious red tinge upon a sloping rock. It was 
badly blurred, however, and I carefully cleaned my 
eye-pieces, and then saw that the red was fire and 
the blur was movement — and in the full light of the 
sun I watched an open artery of Mother Earth 
pouring into the sea — rock liquid a^ blood. The 
Galapagos were being born again. 

Even at this early stage I fortunately realized 
that this wonderful denouement of the April out- 
break was only two hours old, and I watched the 
development and change of the various phases with 
a far more appreciative appraisement than would 
otherwise have been possible. 

For example, when we first passed close along 
the whole front of eruption there were but six vents 
or rivers of lava, but before we left there were 
nine and a possible tenth. The outpouring steam 
and gas was at first about what might result from 
an enormous, shell-struck ammunition dump; the 
next time we circled near, it had quadrupled, and 
before dark it stretched out in a gradually enlarg- 
ing cloud as far as the mid-slopes of Mount Whiton 
— a distance of at least eight miles. 

Neither by day nor night was there any trace of 
live surface lava nearer than a (mile to this coastal 
outbreak. A geologist would have cahnly ex- 
plained it as "An instructive example of an intru- 
sive irruption changing into an extrusive eruption." 
But all a geologist permits himself when comment- 
ing on a volcanic eruption is the perfectly safe 
statement, "When molten rock is forced to the sur- 


face it gives rise to the most intense and impressive 
of all geological phenomena." My pity goes out to 
the student of earth and her rocks who has never 
yelled with sheer, unscientilSc, inarticulate enthu- 
siasm at flowing lava, or been silent with awe at 
such a sight as confronted us. 

When I recovered from the first great wave of 
realization of what good fortune had brought us, I 
perceived the astonishing details. The lava had 
crept slowly, week after week, down the slopes be- 
neath the surface imtil it finally reached the end 
of the island flow. The amazing color of the whole 
was the most outstanding feature; the smoke, as I 
have said, was white and grey, the dead island jet- 
black, out of which spouted scarlet and white hot 
lava into water of unbelievable color. The sea 
around us and everywhere beyond the influence of 
this sudden eruption was a deep indigo blue, spat- 
tered and capped with white. When we first ap- 
proached the lava streams, there stretched out into 
the blue water a narrow neck of clear, pure lumiere 
green, enlarging at once into a shape which, from 
the crow's-nest, was exactly that of an old-fash- 
ioned powder-flask. For a time the Captain de- 
murred about approaching this area, so perfectly 
did it resemble the green of extremely shallow 
water, but when within a hundred yards we could 
see that the surface agitation was the same as that 
of the blue water all around, and we knew its tint 
was due to some other cause. I have never seen two 
colors marked in liquid by so sharp a line. The 
normal temperature of the surface water off north- 


east Albemarle that morning was 76°. When we 
reached the boundary of green water most distant 
from the eruption, I had Jay Pearson take tem- 
peratures as fast as he could pull up pailsful. We 
were barely drifting at this time so that his records 
covered a very short period of time and space. 
When we were nearest the shore, although still 
more than three hundred yards away, the green 
water had risen from 80° to 99° Fahrenheit. At 
this point we left the zone of influence and passed 
into the blue water. At the moment when the line 
of color was amidships the water under our stern 
marked 99°, while that at the bows registered 78°, 
a difference in less than two hundred feet of 
twenty-one degrees. 

I examined the heated water carefully but found 
no sediment or suspended matter. A small tow 
net drawn through it for fifteen minutes took only 
a single blue copepod, a small Coryijhcena or dol- 
phin fish and a few tiny shrimps, all of which were 
alive and well. Unless there was some inorganic 
[matter so fine that it showed no trace in a fresh or 
a long-standing glass of water, the sharp color de- 
marcation was due only to contained air or gas plus 
increased temperature. 

The streams of lava poured out of openings 
several times their own diameter and soon formed 
for themselves chutes of blackened, partly-cooled 
lava. From time to time these nearly closed over 
their streams so that three-fourths of a pipe was 
formed, then as quickly the pipe would melt and 
the great torrent stream out through the air unsup- 


ported except by its own momentum. One spout 
of lava cooled so quickly that twenty feet from its 
appearance, great blobs of black appeared floating 
on its surface — irregular, cinderous corpuscles toss- 
ing on this veritable vein of molten metal. Once I 
saw a great lava river split into five separate 
streams, which crawled down the hundred-foot 
cliffs like the tentacles of some huge scarlet octopus. 
These dripped down into the boiling green water, 
while sulphurous fumes bubbled up in yellow froth. 

There seemed a strange sort of irregular 
sequence of force. First one stream would increase, 
pulsating forth with greater violence, and im- 
mediately the sea would answer by catching great 
quantities of the scarlet fluid and moulding them 
instantly into gigantic, black bombs whose inner 
gases would explode simultaneously, and shoot 
forth a rain of half solid, half liquid boulder spray, 
the jagged projectiles trailing comet-wise, fire, gas 
and water in their wake. Then the steam from this 
particular jet would billow up above all the others, 
until a neighboring lava river in turn flooded its 

We were close enough to see every detail, but 
the fierce on-shore wind muffled every hiss and roar, 
every bubble and crash, and we might have been 
looking at the reproduction of some of the movies 
we were taking. From time to time, a huge por- 
tion of cliff would seemingly rise a little, tremble, 
and very slowly and gently topple forward, send- 
ing up a mountain of spray which alternately 
crashed in great breakers against the living and 


dead lava, and boiled and bubbled like some brob- 
dignagian kettle. It was astonishing to see a swell 
roll shoreward, curve up into a yellowish green 
wave, shatter against the scarlet lava and instantly 
rise and go floating off high in air toward the top 
of the distant mountain. It was a battle, a cosmic 
conflict among fire, water, earth and air such as 
only astronomers might dream of or a maker of 
worlds achieve. 

Here at last was the very life blood of this Ar- 
chipelago. Never would the black cliffs seem cold 
and meaningless again, but always memory would 
warm them and give them movement and color. 
Their twisted strands, their broken, porous bombs 
would seem to have cooled and exploded an instant 
before; every gas-made tunnel might redden and 
fill and pour at any moment. 

I tried to estimate the speed of the lava and 
chose a stream about twenty feet wide. As well as 
I could judge at a distance of several hundred 
yards the cliff at this point was about a hundred 
feet high. I timed occasional black gobs of matter 
floating down the trough and found that they trav- 
ersed the entire drop in two seconds. Therefore 
(as my old arithmetic used to say) "^if a stream of 
lava flows a hundred feet in two seconds in one 
hour it will," etc., etc., etc. My answer was that 
the lava flowed thirty-four miles an hour. Here 
was liquid lava in the open air and in a strong cool- 
ing breeze holding its two to three thousand degrees 
of heat for a long distance, showing no blackening 
before it was lost in the mass of steam and water. 


What the temperature must have been under- 
ground to instigate such a cauldron is unthinkable. 

The yellow froth near the shore seemed to indi- 
cate a considerable amount of sulphur and I knew 
by experience that those grey gases alternating 
with the steam were in part at least composed of 
hydrogen sulphide and carbon monoxide. I liked 
to think of the lava as causing real additions to our 
upper world — new volumes of hydrogen and car- 
bon dioxide actually spread abroad in the atmo- 
sphere for the first time, and, before our eyes, rock 
substance changing from white, to scarlet, to pink, 
and to black, which since the beginning of the world 
had lain miles deep within its heart. 

I have dwelt on the inorganic activity but, from 
the very first glimpse we had of the eruption, ani- 
mal life was everywhere in evidence. Within two 
hours of its beginning, action and reaction had be- 
gun, direct and indirect effects on a host of crea- 
tures. A veritable black wave of fish passed us 
soon after we entered the green water — a school, 
or better a mob, of great tunnies, swimming close 
together with all their strength, panic written in 
every movement, headed for blue, cool water. 
Close to the gangway floated a great octopus, a 
yard long, half dead, his tentacles feebly moving, 
with waves of vivid color coming and going over his 
flabby body. A few small fish drifted by on their 
backs, and writhing, twisting sea-worms. In a 
small boat I could have learned much more of the 
effects of this rarest of rare phenomena. 

Birds, to my surprise, were the dominating fea- 


ture. While still a long distance away my glasses 
showed what I took to be shrapnel-like projectiles 
flung up and dropping down in the steam and lava. 
When closer, I saw that these were frigate- 
birds and shearwaters, not, to be sure, diving 
into the boiling water, but exceedingly close. In- 
stead of the roar and rush of the unusual clouds 
of steam frightening away the seabirds, the sudden 
manna drew them in numbers, just as, when I use 
dynamite in collecting fish, the vultures of the sea 
gather at the first glimpse of a floating silver belly. 

As best I could I made a census of the immediate 
eruption area and counted over two hundred and 
fifty stormy petrels, many in the dark phase, lack- 
ing the white rump, There were seventy-eight 
shearwaters of at least two species, thirty-six 
frigatebirds, ten brown boobies and three pelicans. 
Not only were they in the outer zone of green water 
but a dense flock was flying close in shore about the 
lava. All were attracted by floating fish or other 
organisms, and often I saw them actually become 
obscured by the steam and gases. Later two dead 
petrels and a shearwater floated past, so that some 
at least paid a price for their reckless search for 

At the height of interest in this marvellous sight, 
but when we were at the aphelion of our circle, I 
watched the sea-birds through glasses and learned 
some facts new to me. The shearwaters not only 
flew in their usual erratic flight and snatched a mor- 
sel here and there from the surface, but they 
skimmed the surface with their beaks, ploughing it 


like skimmers. Besides this they flew actually into 
and through the high waves, working both feet 
and wings under water and often turning com- 
pletely around before they emerged with tiny 
fish in their beaks. The wings flapped more rapidly 
under water and the feet paddled like mad. Every 
bird of the eight or ten near the Arcturus did this 
again and again, so it was in no sense an individual 
peculiarity. One shearwater was completely im- 
mersed for shorter or longer periods, seven times in 
nine minutes, and at the end the plumage seemed 
as dry as ever, and the flight was in no way heavy 
or impaired. 

The greatest tragedy we saw was a full-grown 
sea-lion which suddenly leaped high, close to the 
shore. Five times he sprang, arching over eight to 
ten feet clear of the seething water and in blind 
agony headed straight for the scarlet delta of the 
lava. There was no final effort, — the last leap 
apparently carried him straight to death (Fig. 28) . 

At sunset we stood slowly in toward shore for a 
last look at the miracle which had been wrought 
for our benefit. I sat upon the very point of the 
bow and the sight which came to me from either 
hand might well have been from two different 
planets. To my left rose the long, sweeping slopes 
of Mount Williams, quiet in the sunlight, old, grey, 
dusty-looking lava alternating with masses of 
green cactus and bursera, while the shore was 
picked out with brilliant green mangroves. Clean, 
fleecy, unliurrying clouds drifted gently past the 
mountain's summit — Galapagos in her usual mood. 


On the right, hell was let loose, a round worthy 
of Dante's lowest explorations — black, sinister 
crevasses, rushing steam, swirling ugly gases 
which swept on and on and finally joined the great 
noxious cloud which contaminated the clean mantle 
of Mount Whiton. In the foreground were scar- 
let, dripping lava and snarling bursts of gas-tor- 
tured bombs. 

Dusk softened all this, — the gas vanished into the 
night and the nine lava streams became things of 
infinite beauty. The flying projectiles from the 
explosions were now seen as glowing red, not black. 
We turned and steamed toward James, and until 
ten o'clock that night, many miles away, the unfor- 
gettable fires burned over our stern. It was a won- 
derful farewell, — the very rocks of Galapagos alive. 

Two things remain to be set down. 

Twenty hours after we steamed away from Albe- 
marle, our steering-gear, without a second's warn- 
ing, broke down. Twenty hours earlier, with the 
violent on-shore wind and current, deep water up 
to the very splash of the lava, — and the good old 
wooden Arcturus would have contributed a new 
odor and a few flying sparks, and after that the 
steam and gas would have continued as usual, and 
the lava flowed uninterruptedly. 

And now that I have had to reread all these 
words in hard type, I realize that I have given no 
more idea of the real happening than if I had at- 
tempted a description of the single peacock, the 
one opal, the solitary sunset which I had seen and 
you had not. 




Bill Merriam was shouting from the foot of 
the gangway. 

"Hurry up! the boat's ready! Come on!" 

The anchor of the Arcturus had hardly splashed 
rustily into the placid waters of Gardner Bay when 
our flock of small boats splashed after it, and most 
of our land-hungry members eagerly sought for 
places in them. Soon the steep slope of white beach 
that fringes this side of Hood Island was dotted 
with exploring figures, scattering up and down 
the shore or vanishing into the thick scrub of the 

But even after weeks at sea, there were some of 
us who had decided to forego a shore expedition, at 
least until next day. During all our cruise I had 
listened to other people's fish stories, which is not 
meant in a derogatory sense; I had admired the 
shapes and colors of the fish caught by others, and 
had marvelled at the sizes of the ones that got away. 
But alone of the staff, I had never gone fishing, — 
not only on this expedition but in all my life. So 
under the kindly tutelage of Betty Trotter and 





1— ( 







































































































p— I 










Bill, I had determined to saUy forth today to 
catch a fish, not for science, possibly not even edible, 
but a fish caught merely for the sake of fishing. 
This much talked-of business had to be investi- 
gated and its thrills experienced. 

So now, at the commanding tones that echoed 
from the ship's side, I hastily caught up a spoon 
that was not a spoon, a squid that was not a squid, 
and a large hunting-knife that was indisputably 
just that, and dashed to the little boat with its out- 
board motor. 

In all the archipelago called Galapagos, there 
is no more beautiful spot than Gardner Bay. The 
wonderful shore-line of Hood Island, with a thou- 
sand fascinating coves, peninsulas, pinnacles and 
caves, shelters the smooth surface where rocky is- 
lets seem to float, like congealed drops flung off 
from the parent island when that was still a seeth- 
ing fountain of molten lava. The scars of the ter- 
rible searing floods that have poured over Hood, 
from summit to shore, are more nearly covered by 
vegetation than elsewhere in the group, and on this 
sunny April day the sea, sky and land seemed 
wonderfully new, a vivid picture-world that had 
not been created long enough to lose its delicious 

The motor chugged us briskly to a sheltered 
cove, where Bill laid some deep plots against the 
lives and freedom of the crayfish in the shape of 
baited traps, and then we set off to the passage be- 
tween Hood and Gardner Islands. At the mo- 
ment which was mysteriously declared to be the 

gS R A jrs Y i ::^i 


right one, Betty and I were bidden to throw over 
the spoons and to let out what seemed to me like 
several miles of line, and I was breathlessly em- 
barked on my first fishing trip. 

To begin by being breathless was a great mis- 
take ; I needed more breath than was available long 
before we finished. There is such a thing as a 
science in fishing, everyone asserts, so my very 
brief experience must be misleading. There are 
many strange things about the Galapagos, con- 
ditions that seem topsy-turvy to us, and the fishing 
must share in this abnormality, for the sport of 
angling in these waters seems to me to be mostly 
an endurance contest, in which the fisherman sinks 
from exhaustion or his boat sinks from the weight 
of victims, not to his skill and cunning, but to the 
mere fact that he can exert a few pounds more pull 
on his end of the line than they can on theirs. The 
real test of skill here would be to prevent the fish 
from biting. My idea of fishing as a sport, solely 
gained from one afternoon in Gardner Bay, is as 
follows ; you throw over a large, wicked hook, which 
has an uncanny aptitude for turning and rending 
you, and a shiny, cm'ved piece of tin; you unreel 
a lot of fine, and wait thirty seconds. Your arm is 
then jerked out of its socket, which you take as a 
hint that a fish insists on fighting it out on this line 
if it takes all winter. Your tutor in the gentle art 
of angling then stops the motor, which saves you 
from being dismembered. You start to pull in the 
hne, the fish registering violent disapproval and 
arguing all the way. The line is extremely harsh, 


and no one told you that gloves are worn when 
fishing ; at frequent intervals you strike yourself on 
the chin with the large knobby piece of wood on 
which you coil each hard-won inch. At last with 
a rush, a gi-eat ugly head, with gaping jaws, pops 
out of water alongside, and standing up, to the im- 
minent peril of the boat, you give one mighty heave 
and sit down suddenly, sometimes on the fish, some- 
times with the fish in your lap. Naturally you 
emit a few piercing shrieks during all this, to the 
intense disgust of your masculine companion. In 
the process of recovering the hook and spoon, which 
have often been entirely swallowed, you acquire sev- 
eral wounds, and if I were writing a brochure con- 
taining Hints to Fishermen I should emphatically 
say, "Never, never get your fingers into the gills 
of a grouper." Then you gasp twice, throw out 
the line again and proceed as before. Now and 
then a fish, that by rights should be dead, slides 
stealthily along the bottom of the boat and deals 
you a tremendous smack with his tail. That usually 
incites the rest of the alleged corpses to imitation, 
and you feel like a Pilgrim Father running the 
gauntlet in a distinctly unfriendly Indian village. 

Our catch consisted almost entirely of groupers, 
— big mottled fish whose voracity passes belief. 
After a while we found that it was not even nec- 
essary to troll for them; from the stationary boat 
the hook and spoon would be snapped up before 
more than a few feet of line were paid out. 

Betty hooked one large Spanish mackerel, which 
put up a lively fight, and between us we also caught 


five hieroglyphic fish, beautifully patterned with 
cuneiform inscriptions that seem as though they 
must be decipherable. 

Now this business of catching large, resentful, 
powerful fish as fast as the line can be thrown out 
and pulled in, is excellent exercise and, for the first 
few thousand fish, great fun. But after a while it 
does pall upon one. As I dodged the assaults of 
a hot-tempered grouper that was exhibiting every 
sign of repugnance for the boat and our society, I 
glanced above the level of the gunwale for the first 
time in an hour or two. We were drifting in the 
shadow of a cliff, and such a cliff ! Sheer from the 
water it rose, a black rampart to whose most im- 
possible declivities clung little flowering plants. 
At the very top, outlined on the cloudless sky, a 
yellow-blossomed tree lifted thin arms, and the 
clear whistle of a mockingbird drifted down. 
Within oar's length a tiny pocket on the face of 
the rock wall held a scanty nest, and the carnelian 
eyes of the fork-tailed gull-mother watched us 
calmly over her lava parapet. Just below, a low, 
deep cave bored into the base of the cliff, and the 
slow surge, creeping back, revealed glimpses of 
rugged walls, softened and colored with the myriad 
hues of bright sponges, starfish and anemones. 
Sprawled motionless across the top of the arched 
entrance, a giant black sea-lizard might have been 
either a fairy-tale dragon guarding his den, or the 
sculptured device of an artistic Prospero. 

My lagging interest in angling died altogether 
and I looked about to orient myself. We were 


between Gardner Island, the largest of Hood's 
satellites, and this cliff, which was the face of a 
jutting point on an islet between Gardner and 
Hood. Its height was as out of proportion to the 
diameter of the island as that of a skyscraper. As 
we turned back toward the Arcturus we crossed a 
shoal that projects from the south side of Gardner, 
where each big roller, as it piled leisurely against 
the obstruction, showed in its curling green arch a 
dozen groupers apparently enjoying the sport of 

As soon as we climbed aboard the ship, I went 
to the chartroom to find out the name of Islet- 
South-Of-Gardner. We must have been the first 
visitors to take an interest in it, for on none of 
our maps or charts was it considered worthy of 
more than anonymous delineation. 

Everyone knows the fascination of the minia- 
ture; witness the steady market for ship models 
and Japanese toy gardens. It is a kindred feeling 
that makes islands more attractive than continents, 
and the smaller the island, the greater its charm. 
Next day we were in the diving-boat in the lee of 
Gardner, and the Unknown Isle loomed across the 
intervening strait, looking more and more mys- 
teriously inviting with every passing hour. By the 
time my turn came to don the mediseval-looking 
helmet and climb slowly down into the misty blue- 
green world of water, this apparently unimportant 
bit of land had become the most desirable spot in 
all the Galapagos. But something always hap- 
pened to prevent a visit; no small boat was avail- 


able, or there was something very pressing to be 
done, and after a while I began to go about mur- 
muring, "Je n'cd jamais vu Cai'cassonner 

It is a great thing to have authority on your 
side, so when the Director took an interest in Is- 
let-South-Of-Gardner I finally reached it. One 
morning he and Betty and I were ferried over; 
we landed on a little lava step to which it was just 
possible to jump from the stern of the small boat. 
This was on the opposite side of the island from the 
cliff, and seemed the only feasible landing place, 
for to the left the shores were too precipitous, and 
to the right a long arm of boulders was partly 
covered by a turmoil of surf. No one expects to 
land on a Galapagos dryshod ; it is counted a lucky 
day when an effected landing leaves you dry from 
the waist up. So we dripped moistly up along a 
series of zigzag shelves in the rock, until we stood 
on a level bit of soil. The whole islet, seen from 
this point, seemed to slope gently from the northern 
to the southern side, — from the high point of the 
cliff down to the boulder beach that buried itself in 
the sea. Here among big water-smoothed stones 
were other lumps, — some dark as the lava rocks, 
others yellow-brown, depending on whether the sea- 
lions had had time to dry since heaving themselves 
out of the surf. 

From my short acquaintance with the race, 
I feel justified in generalizing to the extent of 
stating that sea-lions are nice people. From the 
chunky unweaned babies that can be tucked under 
the arm and lugged about, somewhat cumbersome 


but very lovable, to the old bulls with bristly mous- 
taches, who pretend to be dangerous but turn 
sheepish when outfaced, they are all amusing, and 
some of the most delightful hours in the archipelago 
I have spent in their society. So now I naturally 
swerved toward the bulky bodies sprawled in the 
sun, all sleeping as blissfully as though lava boul- 
ders made the softest bed in the world. 

The first group that I approached was of mother 
and child, — the latter enjoying peaceful dreams in 
a small tide puddle, while the guardian parent, a 
few feet away, lay dozing with her chin propped 
on a keen-edged stone. I walked up behind them, 
sat down a yard away, and remarked gently, 
' 'Good-morning. ' ' 

There was no reaction to this, except that the 
skin on the mother's neck twitched, as though my 
voice were a ticklish sort of fly. I repeated my 
greeting somewhat louder. The otter-like head 
hfted from the rocky pillow and slowly swung in 
my direction, and not until both eyes were brought 
to bear upon me did the full horror of the situa- 
tion dawn upon her. With a mighty snort of 
amazement, she sat as bolt upright as a sea-lion can 
sit, and braced on right-angled wrists she stared 
transfixed. I stared back, for one of her eyes was 
a repulsive, sightless mass of mucus, the result of 
a wound, I thought at first. The baby had not 
moved, so I reached out and patted his little rump. 
He rolled over nearly on his back, waving a lan- 
guid flipper, but when he saw me, he went into 
reverse and lumbered hastily to his mother's side. 


After spending five minutes in deliberate inspec- 
tion, she decided that I was too strange a creature 
to be a desirable associate and withdrew, her off- 
spring shuffling laboriously behind her, to a more 
distant spot, where they sank down and instantly 
went to sleep again. 

My next attempt to be accepted in sea-lion circles 
met with more success. Further down the beach 
there was a group of youngsters, with one adult 
female apparently in charge; as a sea-lion has 
only one pup at a birth, I could only suppose that 
this was a sort of creche, where other mothers left 
their children under the watchful eye of a good- 
natured neighbor while they went out to do the 
fish-marketing. Here I was received, if not as an 
equal, at least with more toleration than before, and 
as children are notoriously less suspicious than their 
elders, these fat sleek pups believed in my good 
intentions. The nurse or mothers' helper or what- 
ever she was, showed some uneasiness at my too- 
familiar approach and at last made slowly for the 
water with her brood in tow, but when I followed 
and stepped into the shallow tide-pool in the rocks, 
which was evidently a favorite play-ground, the 
young ones floundered around me, lifting their 
small whiskered muzzles to peer curiously into my 
face as I crouched, and unmercifully tickling my 
bare feet and ankles as they dived to investigate my 
submerged portions. 

As I looked from one to another of the doggish 
faces, I realized that every one of these pups had 
something the matter with its eyes. A sea-lion's eyes 


out of water have a dim, near-sighted look, and as 
they dry in the air there is often some whitish mat- 
ter about the corners, but each of these babies had, 
to a lesser degree, the same affliction that had 
made that first mother partially sightless. I went 
ashore to investigate, and of all the sea-lions on that 
little beach there was hardly one, old or young, that 
was without this disease. None of us had ever seen 
this before, either on our previous expedition of 
1923, or during the present one. Here was some- 
thing like a leper colony, composed almost entirely 
of the diseased animals, although this apparent 
segregation was probably more accidental than in- 
tentional, a voluntary rather than a compelled os- 
tracism. The most pitiful sight was a small pup 
that was quite blind. He lay at some distance from 
any others, seemingly as well-nourished as any of 
the healthier babies, so the law of Sparta is evi- 
dently not in force among sea-lions. He was more 
frightened than any of his fellows when I ap- 
proached, and before I really touched him, he 
began to scramble frantically away, crashing 
among the stones so recklessly that I hastily re- 
treated, lest he should hurt himself or stray too 
far away from the spot where his returning mother 
would expect to find him. 

He was being taken care of now, but I won- 
dered how he would fare when next year there was 
another pup, a new arrival that would claim all 
the mother's attention. However, his future was 
settled out of hand when Dr. Cady heard of this 
island isolation ward. Next day the blind pup was 


secured for examination, and the disease diagnosed 
as conjunctivitis. How this was ever contracted by 
Galapagos sea-lions no one has explained. 

In fiction certain conventions are always ob- 
served by castaways upon a desert island. The 
fij'st thing they do is to make a circuit of its shores, 
attaching names to various bits of geography as 
they go. Wishing to do the thing according to the 
best traditions, Betty and I set off to explore the 
coast-line. The Director was just visible in a tan- 
gle of scrub half-way up the cliff, and from his im- 
mobilit}'' we knew he was watching some creature, 
probably a nesting bird. At such moments in the 
life of a naturalist, the advent of spectators is sel- 
dom hailed with enthusiasm, so we discreetly left 
him to his observations. A few steps beyond the 
boulder beach brought us to a steep rock slide, 
worn glassy smooth by the sea-lions that had glis- 
saded down its slope. Descent was easy, merely 
an imitation of the sea-lions. We landed at the foot 
of a cliff, where a big black lizard was spread- 
eagled against the lava, looking like a skin pegged 
out to dry in the sun. Our somewhat hilarious ar- 
rival disturbed him and he straddled up the face 
of the cliff, clinging to invisible projections with 
strong curved claws. Just to prove that we claw- 
less beings were not wholly incapable of acrobatics, 
we swarmed after him and caught him by his thick, 
serrated tail. Once captured, he hung limply in 
our hands, resigned to fate, and even when replaced 
on the cliff, he remained quiescent as though in- 
credulous of his good fortune. 


The Amblyrhynchus of Hood and its surround- 
ing islets is not of somber, unrelieved black, as are 
most of these marine lizards of the archipelago, but 
is irregularly streaked with dull red in varying 
quantities. The simile that occurred to us at the 
time was of a neglected rusty suit of black armor; 
a few weeks later and we would have said that the 
lizard repeated the tones of a volcanic eruption, 
seen in full sunlight — the old, cold lava for a back- 
ground, trickled over by streams of molten lava. 

Along the shelving shore ran a narrow path, a 
ledge cut in the coarse red rubble. It looked like 
a mountain-side sheep trail, and on one of the 
larger islands we would have supposed it to be a 
goat thoroughfare. But when we had to climb 
over boulders that jutted across the foot-way, since 
there was scarcely two feet of space beneath them, 
it was easy to see that no creatures of goat's sta- 
ture ever wore this track. Below, the creaming 
surf whipped round a thousand little crags and 
promontories, where pompous pelicans watched for 
delicacies and took off clumsily in pursuit of them. 
Big scarlet crabs spangled the black rocks, and ver- 
mihon-throated sand lizards scampered after in- 
sects. The path dipped steeply and stopped at 
a pebbly beach, shut in all round by high rock walls. 
A tiny pool, left by the tide that had crept away 
through some invisible crevice, was occupied by a 
half -grown sea-hon, and a few yellow-tailed fish 
that were too small to interest him. 

By this time we had worked round toward the 
lofty side of the islet, so that the land side of the 


beach was faced by a sheer high wall. And in this 
wall was a low-arched opening, as black within as 
without. Not daring to hope that it would be any- 
thing more than the merest recess worn by the 
waves, we entered. To our delight ( for what could 
be more satisfactory than an unexplored cave on 
a desert island) it was a narrow passage that turned 
sharply from the entrance and seemed to continue 
for some distance. At first we could stand erect 
and walk over a thick strewing of round pebbles, 
but presently in growing darkness the roof came 
down so low that we took to all fours and crept 
along a tunnel, dimly lighted now and then 
through fissures in the rock wall, opening at the 
level of the sea outside. A flickering greenish light, 
cast by the reflection of the sun on shallow water, 
made our crepuscular worming even more eerie 
than it would have seemed in total darkness. The 
silken sound of the wavelets slipping over stones 
inspired us simultaneously with the thought of the 
tide, and in involuntary whispers we discovered 
that we did not know whether it was rising or fall- 
ing. Somewhat reassured by the recollection that 
this was no Bay of Fundy or Mont St. Michel, and 
that we should probably have sufficient warning to 
escape from these confined quarters, we crawled 
on. Presently the roof sloped up again, so that 
we could thankfully rise from bruised knees. It 
was very dark now, but stretching up and to both 
sides, no walls or roof could be reached. We turned 
round a slight angle and came suddenly into a 
large chamber, where at the further end a mys- 


terious beam of light fell across a snow-white dais. 

Rider Haggard could have done no better. As 
we stood stock-still hardly venturing to breathe, 
the consciousness of things moving quietly all 
about us was conveyed by more than the sense of 
actual hearing. Soft sighs, the rustle of a dis- 
placed pebble, a queer sibilant little sound between 
a breath and a hiss, peopled the gloom and sent 
tingles up and down our spines. Wild thoughts 
raced through our minds, — gnomes, mermaids, 
strange island folk of unhuman ancestry, or some- 
thing too weird to imagine with even so much defi- 
niteness. Then a warm, wet nose sniffed experi- 
mentally around our ankles, and almost before we 
had time to realize that our cave trolls were sea- 
lions, and the white throne a wave-washed pile of 
pebbles and coral, there was a clatter and tinkle 
of stones, like faint cymbals and timbrels, and into 
the beam of light across the pale divan came the 
biggest sea-lion I ever saw. The circumstances 
and surroundings conspired to make him even 
larger than he would have seemed in daylight, I 
suppose, but he was assuredly the great-grand- 
father and the king of all his kind. 

He advanced to the exact center of the spotlight 
and posed there. It seemed as though some one 
ought to cry "Oyez! Oyez!" but the only sounds 
were the subdued sighs under our feet and further 
back in unseen recesses the sibilant noises made by 
suckling pups. 

The chamber was partially divided by a low wall 
running down the middle and we leaned on this 


barrier, occasionally clutching each other to express 
our utter satisfaction. The light came from a sort 
of chimney-hole high up in the seaward wall, and 
on a shelf beneath the aperture lay a sea-lion, for 
all the world like an electrician in charge of a 
theater spotlight perched in his little box halfway 
up the proscenium arch. 

The king seemed quite unaware of us until we 
slowly approached the throne; perhaps we did not 
observe the ceremonial proper to such a progress. 
Suddenly the patriarch emitted a terrific snuffling 
bellow and hurled himself straight at us, to the ac- 
companiment of an avalanche of stones. Outside 
we should have known that he was harmless, but 
this stage setting was too much for our nerves. 
With muffled howls we threw ourselves prostrate on 
top of the dividing wall, hastily elevating our feet, 
and the monarch of the den thundered past. The 
complete humility of our concerted salaam should 
have placated him. We heard the echoes of his in- 
dignant wheezes dying away down the tunnel, and 
with a flop the royal electrician deserted his now 
useless post and shuffled in pursuit. This was the 
beginning of a general exodus. The harem, or 
courtiers, did not seem afraid of us ; but it was per- 
haps court etiquette to follow the royal suit. In 
five minutes we were in sole possession of the au- 
dience-chamber, except that from corners too deep 
to be penetrated by the dim light still came the 
sound of happily-nourished infants. 

We introduced the note of a Christmas panto- 
mime into this equatorial fairy-tale by leaving 


through the chimney, which was a scramble and a 
tight squeeze before we emerged on a rock plat- 
form halfway up a cliff and blinked in the blaze of 
sun. Feeling the combined sensations of Ali Baba, 
Tom Sawyer and the first explorer of cave-dwell- 
ings, the thought that made our enjoyment the 
more keen was that in all probability our feet were 
the first human ones to explore this island. There 
have been plenty of visitors to Hood, and scien- 
tists have collected from Gardner as well, but so 
far as we know, no one ever troubled to investigate 
these smaller islands of lava. Pirates and whalers, 
of pre-scientific days, might have landed on them, 
had they wished, but those strictly utilitarian gen- 
tlemen would have had no reason for doing so, 
though the sea-lion cave would have been an ideal 
hiding-place for treasure. 

Continuing the circuit, we paused in some tide- 
pools, where we earnestly attempted to capture the 
wariest small fish I ever saw. A blue-footed booby 
watched us superciliously from an over-hanging 
ledge, with an air of I-could-an-if-I-would. Pres- 
ently our fruitless efforts were interrupted by 
shouts, and the Director rushed to join us, all agog 
with the tale of a marvellous cave that he had dis- 
covered. We gave an imitation of the booby's ex- 
pression, and explained carefully to him just what 
he had missed by not being with us when the cave 
was really discovered, instead of merely following 
in the footsteps of the pioneers, and finding that 
civilization had driven out the aborigines. 

From a jutting headland we looked down to the 


sea over a straight drop, a wall which gradually 
rose to the eminence of the cliff which had first at- 
tracted me to the island. Prospero's cave was not 
visible from this point. The air was sweet with the 
odor of a shrub with racemes of greenish-white 
flowers, and three or four bees hummed over the 
lures. These bees and these inconspicuous plants 
were the Galapagos manifestation of tropical lux- 
uriance, the best that the islands could produce. 
There were many small, drab moths, and some of 
the low, pale-barked trees were almost leafless from 
the depredations of Httle green measuring worms, 
presumably the larval form of the moths. A small- 
billed finch was patiently stuffing her clamoring 
full-grown attendant youngster with as many of 
these worms as her careful search disclosed. 

Entomology in the Galapagos must be pursued 
by painstaking examination of every leaf and twig, 
hole and corner, crack and crevice. Turning over 
large stones is one way of collecting, and we ap- 
plied ourselves to this grubby method, on the steep 
hillside among thorny scrub and cactus. Two large 
reddish centipedes were our first reward, a dubious 
delight to the non-naturalist, but most welcome to 
our collecting bottles, as the only specimens of an 
equal size that we had so far acquired had been 
by the fragmentary method of taking them from 
the stomachs of dissected hawks. The first scut- 
tling rush of a tiny gecko was hailed with shouts, 
for these little lizards are rather rare on the islands, 
and we were doubly interested in seeing what dif- 
ferences there might be between those from this 


lesser land and their brothers on Hood. Diligent 
search, interspersed with bursts of speed, gave us 
four geckos, and we saw three others that were too 
agile for our combined efforts. A hawk soared 
overhead, perhaps watching our pui'suit of such 
edible morsels as centipedes and lizards. 

In certain directions the Galapagos is a narrow 
field of research. For instance, if you have seen a 
hawk there, you can rest on the assm'ance that you 
have now seen every species of hawk to be found 
in the archipelago, and the same is true of an owl. 
Those bees whose busy wings buzzed companion- 
ably about us are the only representatives of their 
family on the islands. But on the other hand, of 
the black finches that are native here there are at 
least fourteen species (Fig. 29). 

Several kinds of beetles, a nest of flying ants and 
one of termites, and a white, thread-like centipede 
were disposed in vials before the blare of the ship's 
whistle warned us to be ready to perform those 
athletic feats necessary to embarkation in the small 
boat. Returning with what we felt to be an almost 
complete collection of the flora and fauna of our 
nameless islet, we christened it Osborn Island for 
Professor Henry Fairfield Osborn, and fell to 
sorting and preserving our specimens for future 
study. The Director combed Osborn Island with 
especial thoroughness for the total bird census, and, 
to add to the scientific value of this humble chap- 
ter, I have prevailed upon him to condense some of 
his observations into Appendix A at the end of this 


But now we sighed for smaller worlds to con- 
quer, for from the rocky shelf of Osborn Island 
we had had an enticing view of an islet of even less 
acreage. Attraction and size seemed to be in in- 
verse ratio; Hood would certainly rank as a small 
island ; it is quite invisible on most world maps, but 
when anchored off its shores it loomed large, with 
the majesty of a continent, since the eye could not 
compass it at a glance. Probably I ought to be 
ashamed to admit that I never set foot on Hood 
during all the time that we lay in Gardner Bay. 
Gardner Island, a sort of New Zealand to Hood's 
Australia, held something more of island lure ; the 
key to that fascination must be the hope that one 
may more fully possess it through a fuller know- 
ledge, which is, after all, the only real kind of pos- 
session. Osborn Island had drawn us with the 
promise of imparted secrets, and now there was a 
smaller scrap, of infinite possibilities, with a de- 
lightful definiteness of outline that assured us of 
complete results in exploring. 

At dawn next morning the patient doctor was 
routed out; he and one of the motor-boats under- 
stood each other, and he was accordingly elected to 
the position of the most popular ferryman. He dis- 
played the spirit of a true Christian about it, and 
while he nourished the engine with gasoline, Lin, 
Betty and I raided the galley for our own susten- 
ance. The baker, a fat man with a grim face and 
a kind heart, thrust a slab of coffee cake into our 
hands, adding a festive touch to the humble bread 
and butter to which we helped ourselves. A can- 


teen of the rather highly flavored water which was 
the best the condensers could distill completed our 
modest ideas of a picnic, and even before the early 
breakfast hour the fussy sputter of the outboard 
motor was profaning the crystal stillness of the 
bay. A grey sky slowly burned to blue at the 
zenith, while all round the horizon streaks of color 
brightened and faded. The smooth grey water 
looked so solid that the boat's prow seemed to carve 
a way through a leaden sheet that fell back in long 

Our splashy landing on a submerged ledge did 
not even wake a half -grown sea-lion from his 
beauty sleep and with a sympathy in our hearts 
born of many reluctant risings of our own, we left 
him in peace. The receding gasps of the motor 
were swallowed up in the vast quiet, and as the 
first cool sunlight touched our Terra Incognita, 
we sat on a patch of scanty grass to breakfast, and 
tossed crumbs and crusts to a perky mockingbird 
and a big scarlet crab that hopped and sidled round 

Near at hand were tide-pools where tiny bright 
fishes hurried about and maroon-and-pink ane- 
mones closed flabbily over my intruding fingers. 
Following the northern shore, we climbed along a 
rapidly rising series of huge steps roughly formed 
of crumbled rocks and reddish, friable earth. Over 
the edge of the cliffs we could catch glimpses of cosy 
homes tucked away in miniature caves or on hol- 
lowed ledges, where fork-tailed gulls and noddy 
terns were bringing up their families, and cocking 


unconcerned heads at the apparition of our in- 
terested faces appearing from above, usually up- 
side down. A beautiful little red-footed dove flut- 
tered from under our feet, and added to her plump, 
partridge-like appearance by simulating a broken 
wing in an attempt to lure us from the two white 
eggs lying under a boulder on a heap of twigs. 

Presently we came to such a barrier of thorny 
scrub that we went inland, still aiming for the high- 
est point of Our Island. Its center was a cup- 
like depression sloping toward the sea, and here 
an incongruous memory smote me. The evenly 
spaced, low, gnarled trees, the seeded grasses grow- 
ing long and rank beneath, the rocks lying in tum- 
bled lines here and there, strangely resembled an 
abandoned New England orchard with crmnbled 
stone-walls and once-cultivated air. There was 
even a sort of pit which needed only a sidewise 
glance to be a cellar, the forlorn remnant of a home, 
such as one finds on a country back-road, or comes 
upon in a short-cut across young timber-land. 
Surely an unexpected comparison, for of all places 
in the world the Galapagos and New England are 
the least alike. 

The sunlight was no longer cool, nor were we, as 
we struggled up the steep inner side of the cup, 
cut off from any breeze and lacking anything that 
could be called shade. A final scramble and we 
emerged on the pinnacle rim to a panorama that 
made us gasp. Far off was the misty loom that we 
knew for Chatham Island, twenty-five miles away, 
while close at hand were the shores of Hood with 



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OCEAN ed an 

Fig. A. Young of the Giant Sun-fish, Alola mola (Linne) 
" B. Young of an unknown Soldier-fisli, Holocentnis 
" C. Young of an unknown Pomfret, Taractes 
(Actual length of all three fish, one-half to three- 
fourths of an inch) q^(\ 

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a lacy edge of surf. Gardner and Osborn, to the 
north and west, were Httle dark heaps speckled with 
faint green, and a toy Arcturus lay between them. 
Rounding the furthest point of Hood was a moving 
dot, — the launch returning from a visit to the al- 
batross rookery. And everywhere stretched the 
empty miles of blue plain, the summer sea, ruffled 
by a lusty trade-wind that fanned our hot faces with 
sweet air. 

The sweeping view held us so long that we did 
not for some minutes see what lay below. At our 
feet was a sheer drop of a hundred feet or more ; a 
long jetty, a narrow rampart of rock, perhaps 
thirty feet high, projected from the island for some 
distance, and turned at a neat accurate right-angle 
to parallel the line of the cliff where we stood, so 
that we looked down upon a perfectly protected 
harbor, enclosed on three sides. It hardly seemed 
possible that man had had no hand in the shaping of 
this precise alignment, that might have been a min- 
iature of some such famous port as Alexandria, 
where the populace sauntered on the mole and 
watched ships come and go. In this case the gos- 
sipping crowd was composed of boobies, jostling 
each other along the narrow wall-top or standing 
stiffly like sentinels silhouetted against the sea. 

They had no ships to watch, but there was activ- 
ity enough, of a kind that was as visible to them as 
it was to us from our loftier perch. At the surface 
floated an enormous school of the beautiful white- 
striped angelfish, Holocanthus passer, their black 
bodies, splashed with orange, red and purple, 


plainly seen as they lay on their sides in the fash- 
ion peculiar to this species. We had seen them 
before by the half-dozen close about the small boats 
along shore, but there were hundreds in this group, 
drifting like bright petals in the clear deep water 
of the sheltered haven. Beyond the natural break- 
water a round dark object seemed to be a rock, just 
awash, until two flippers shot out to propel it for- 
ward and turn it into a huge turtle. A school of 
large carangids drove swiftly past hke a cloud 
shadow, and the sharp fins of three sharks cruised 
aimlessly to and fro above the long, submerged 
bodies. Across the strait between Our Island and 
Hood came thirteen great bat shapes, — rays swim- 
ming with graceful undulations of their wing- 
like fins, and holding their places in accurate battle- 
squadron formation. 

From our height the water seemed a medium 
scarcely thicker than air. Now and then a booby 
launched himself from his observation post, soared 
rapidly and fell like a stone in a breath-taking dive. 
A slight splash, the bird disappeared while you 
could count three, and then popped out like a seed 
squeezed from an orange. A few steps further on 
we reached the best place of all. Behind the jetty 
stood a rock pinnacle, broad at the base, flattened 
on both sides, with razor edges, and tapering to a 
point that was almost as high as our cliff. It was 
a gigantic arrow-head, standing in the surf, and 
connected with the island by a tiny causeway far 
down at its foot. The waves boiled in a narrow 
tunnel they had worn completely through the base 


of this stone triangle, and on its very apex perched 
a lonely gull. 

We sat on the brink of the precipice and with 
heads tilted far back, watched a frigatebird soar- 
ing overhead. There was something hypnotic in 
the unceasing song of the wind, the abyss below, 
and the vast blue vault above, empty save for a 
pair of outstretched wings that rocked lazily round 
and round a wide circle. At long intervals those 
wings flapped twice, then stiffened and held mo- 
tionless, while the bird, confidently cradled on the 
rushing air, swung in its chosen orbit and watched 
its world. There was a dizzy moment when we too 
seemed to wheel in a great void, when, gasping, we 
clutched the solid rocks beneath, and brought our 
eyes, and so our bodies, back to the reality of finite 
earth and ocean, surf and sand. 

Sometimes, in the confusion of cities, in the 
midst of the dirt and noise and countless irritations 
that make civilization seem a deplorable blunder, it 
is good to remember that a frigatebird is winging 
over that little secret harbor which, it may be, was 
never seen by any other human eyes than ours. 



I ANCHORED the glass-bottoiiied diving boat as 
close to the chffs of northern Narborough as I 
dared, in a cove where the water was so deep that 
the swells remained unbroken until shattered 
against the lava itself. The rocks at this point 
showed very clearly their division into successive 
lava flows, some like frozen, black molasses candy 
six feet thick, alternating with thinner strata in 
the shape of huge bricks. The topmost layer was 
the same old ploughed field of cinder crags and 
snags with which we were so familiar on Albemarle. 
This is probably the eruption of one hundred years 
ago of which Morrell wrote so vividly.^ 

This, my seventieth descent, took me into a sub- 
marine world as strange and as unlike that of 
Tagus Cove (which we could still see in the distance 
from the ship), as that differed from Tower. If 
they were jungles and deserts this was a wheat- 
field. Swiillowing as I went, I climbed down and 
down and stood, at last, on a gigantic rounded 
boulder, thirty feet below the surface. This round- 
ness spelled a distinct difference between this and 

^GaMpagos: World's End, pp. 401-405. 



other shores of the Galapagos. The surf had 
pounded and rolled the rocks on this unprotected 
coast until they had become huge pebbles. This 
explained the absence of tide-pools along the shore 
— the water simply filtering away as soon as the 
tide level went down. 

The dominant note of this under-water scene in 
this marvellous island eddy was the sea-weed. 
Great fields of it extended to the limit of vision, 
with bare or sponge-covered boulders between. 
Sargassum with small berries, grew on long, slender 
fronds, two or three feet in length, which gave com- 
pletely to every surge, more so than any land 
growth to the wind. While I have dived where 
steady currents hold in one direction day and night, 
yet by the very force of circumstances, my puny 
efforts are usually confined to the surge-affected 
shore. Like a tide which changes every twelve sec- 
onds instead of every twelve hours, the whole 
underworld swayed outward and then, with in- 
finite grace, inward again. All of the innmnerable 
strands of greenish olive bent and flattened away 
from me, and then, with the slow movement at- 
tained only rarely by such growths as weeping wil- 
lows, rolled toward and wrapped around me, reach- 
ing out toward the steep ascent marking the 
beginning of that upper world which seemed so 
little a part of my life at a moment like this. As 
the grass shifted and vibrated, many weird little 
inhabitants were disclosed for a moment, and then 
scuttled back to shelter — wrasse never seen before 
or since, twisting worms, crabs and snails, all iden- 


tical in color with the weed. The numbers and 
size of the fish outside the weed were remarkable, 
almost every species being represented by larger 
individuals than elsewhere, due perhaps to the un- 
usual abundance of food on these current-served 
shores. My old friends Xesurus, the yellow-tailed 
cows, were grazing in schools of two to three hun- 
dred, shadowing slowly about the corners of boul- 

I was half way up a steep slope, and by twisting 
the boat around with me I succeeded in reaching 
the summit, where I could look down upon a 
sinister valley, narrow and dark and deep, with the 
opposite ridge covered with the same long, waving 
weed. As I stretched full length upon a mat of the 
sargassum, a gang — they were too ugly and danger- 
ous looking to call school — of giant groupers parted 
the fronds and drifted through toward me, all dark, 
in tone with the olives and browns. They mouched 
along, their ugly jaws chewing eternally on the cud 
of life, when suddenly, without the slightest warn- 
ing, there came a distinct glow and next to the last 
grouper came one of the goldens. To their evident 
opinion there was no difference; he impatiently 
nudged a neighbor and in turn was pushed aside 
by the fish following him. The most careful dis- 
section on our part shows absolutely no physical 
difference and yet, instead of being clad in mottled 
olive green of the dullest, darkest shade, he is solid 
gold from mouth to tail. The weed was appre- 
ciably illumined when he passed through it. One 
strange thing has been that, rare as these golden 


groupers are, both two years ago and during the 
present trip, it is only these gorgeously colored indi- 
viduals which attack the propeller of our little out- 
board motors. Whether the color of the ghstening 
brass attracts this shining caste more than it does 
the other, duller grouper persons, I have no idea. 

A few minutes later a shadowy school, a second 
lot, of even larger groupers swept past in the blue 
distance with another golden brother with them. 
He is all the more wonderful because there are no 
intermediates — one has either regal golden blood 
or mottled brown polloi caste. Here is materiaHzed 
the mental effect which creates in fairy tales the 
one most beautiful creatm-e or hero or princess 
among a host of dull or ugly ones. 

Once again a huge sea-lion gave me a start. As I 
stood watching a mist of grazing Xesurus I felt a 
sudden water pressure against my back and legs, 
and turned in time to see a monstrous black shape 
bank and veer away, having rushed down in a light- 
ning sweep within a foot of me. His eyes were no 
longer the dull, soft, deer-like, half-seeing organs 
with which he gazed at me on land, but bright and 
clear and keen; the long cheek whiskers stood out 
white and bristling, the mouth partly opened as he 
turned and the dog teeth gleamed wickedly. As my 
eye caught his form I leaped involuntarily toward 
the ladder, forgetting that I was in a land where 
mighty acrobatics could be achieved with a mere 
push. I landed on a boulder at a height of about 
four rungs up, and some eight feet beyond the lad- 
der — a standing high and distance jump which 


broke the world's record in the upper air by feet. 
The strangest thing about it was that whenever I 
did such a thing as this, I accomplished it slowly. 
I took off with deliberation in spite of my strong- 
est effort, I went through the water with con- 
scious lapse of time, and I landed as in a slow 
motion picture. 

The instant I leaped I realized my mistake and 
watched the wonderful form as it swung up from 
me. It turned just below the surface and again 
shot down. I think a considerable percentage of 
these manoeuvers was pure side, executed for the 
benefit of a smaller, probably a lady sea-lion, who 
hung between earth and air a short distance away, 
and watched. The big male — he was certainly over 
seven feet long — began his second rush at an acute 
angle, heading for the bottom some distance away. 
Turning like a meteor the moment his head touched 
the waving seaweed, he again cleared me by inches. 
I could not help but flinch, not from a fear of be- 
ing bitten but from a disbelief that such a great 
body could possibly stop its impetus and not smash 
into me. As he passed, I stretched out a hand and 
felt the smooth, hard body brush against my 
fingers. This was apparently a surprise to the ani- 
mal, who, in alarm, inserted an extra curve into his 
simple parabola, and in the effort gasped out a 
mouthful of bubbles. This time he shot to the sur- 
face and half out, followed by his admirer, while 
the string of bubbles ascended slowly — coalescing 
as it went into larger and fewer spheres — like the 
puff of smoke from an airplane engine, or the 


blossoming of white shrapnel against a blue sky. 
In each bubble I could see a distorted reflection of 
myself, my helmet and all my surroundings. 

A glance around showed that every fish had 
vanished, and not until two or three minutes had 
passed did they begin slowly coming into view. The 
sea-lions are the masters of these waters, and I 
was surprised to see even a great turtle slide hastily 
out of the way when one came too near. Sharks 
always disappeared with the fish. 

Even if the fish had not returned I could have 
watched the movement of the seaweed for hours, 
it was so unlike the movement of wheat or grass. 
The whole mass seemed alive — a field of medusa 
growth — each stem writhing and curling and twist- 
ing of its own volition, in its own particular way, 
and yet the whole ebbing and flowing as one frond 
in obedience to the rhythmic breeze. It was the old 
story over again of the single corpuscle tmnbling 
and rolling individually while yet helpless in the 
general current of the blood; and of the colonial 
organism — each individual ant doing his own work 
although bound irrevocably to the will of the whole, 
and — who knows — it is perhaps no whit different 
from the apparent free-will personalities of our 
separate selves, compared with the destiny of the 
human race. 

I sat me down on a couch of golden, blowing 
weed, with beautiful green-armed starfish sprawled 
here and there, and leaning back, watched the bub- 
bles of my life's breath tumble out from beneath 
my arms and shoulders. From invisibility, from 


the colorless, formless stream of gas flowing down 
the length of black hose, they became definite 
spheres, painted and splashed with all the colors in 
sight. Once, when I was making my first flight in 
a plane, I had, for a short space of time, the soul- 
devastating sensation of being suspended motion- 
less in the ether while the earth dropped away from 
me. That has never been repeated, but here on the 
bottom of the sea, looking upward at the great bub- 
bles of breath, I can often conjure up the belief 
that I am actually looking at a constellation, a 
galaxy of worlds and stars, rolling majestically 
through the invisible ether. The background is as 
mysteriously colorless and formless as space itself 
must be, and as I peer out through my little rec- 
tangular windows I seem to be actually living an 
experience which only the genius of a Verne or a 
Wells can imagine into words. It suddenly flashes 
over me that in giving over my moon and steUar 
longings for the depths of the sea, I have in a 
mamier achieved both. 

I have even the sensations of a god, for in each 
of the spheres I have created, I see very distinctly 
my own image. But I also see many more inter- 
esting things and my moonings in the present in- 
stance were brought to an abrupt end by a glint 
of gold which appeared on each globule of air — a. 
fiery pin-point which became an oval and soon a 
great spot as if a sun were rising behind me. If I 
were looking at a real planet such a thing might 
be a tremendous volcanic eruption on the surface. 
Twisting slightly and peering obliquely through 


my little periscope I saw what, after all, is the most 
joyous thing in life, an old friend in a new guise — 
another great golden grouper just behind me, re- 
vealed by his reflected image on my ascending 

To my left the rope from the anchor weight led 
up in a graceful curve to the distant, dark silhou- 
ette of the boat. Now and then a window opened 
in the ruffled ceiling and framed the anxious face 
of my faithful assistant peering down, on the look- 
out for approaching danger. The face vanished, 
the window slammed shut as the water-glass was 
withdrawn, and I was again visually lost to the 
upper world. 

Two small, black forms approached from the off- 
shore side of my aquatic sky, looking from below, 
like the keels of funny, diminutive tug-boats, and 
driven by a pair of most efficient propellers. These 
were rather turbines of sorts, furling and unfurling 
in a curling, spiral manner, which offered the most 
and the least resistance respectively to the water. 
Long rudder tails, two slender, sharp beaks and 
sinuous snaky necks came into view, and a swirl 
sent both birds into my world — meaning complete 
submersion for them. There followed a chase which 
no man's eyes have ever seen before — a pair of 
flightless cormorants pursuing a scarlet sea bass — 
viewed from below. The fish saw them coming and 
fled at full speed, not in a straight line but in a 
series of zigzags, perhaps, like a chased hen, see- 
ing the pursuers first out of one eye on one side, 
then out of the other apparently on that side. The 


cormorants separated, one diving deeply while the 
other followed its prey directly. Soon the confused 
fish dived at right angles and before it had time to 
turn again was in the beak of the second bird. 
The moment it was captured, both birds relaxed 
every muscle and with dangling wings and feet let 
themselves be drawn up to the surface. There, 
even from my depth, I watched a second race be- 
gin, and surmised the details of what I had seen 
enacted twice the day before fropi the boat, a cor- 
morant coming up with a fish and instantly chased 
by another, both travelling at such high speed, that 
with wings spattering and feet going, their entire 
bodies were almost out of water. At the first op- 
portunity, a quick upward toss, reversing the fish, 
and a gulp, and down it went headfirst. On this 
occasion I saw only the frantic disturbance of the 
surface, rapid dodging, and then cessation of 
motion, after which the leading bird immersed and 
shook its beak in the water several times, and I 
knew that if I so chose, I could write in my journal 
that at Narborough, Nannopterwm harrisii in- 
cludes Paranthias furcifer in its articles of diet. 

The surface ripples had hardly ceased when a 
cloud drifted across my little sky. And, paren- 
thetically, at this place I digress long enough to 
make a certain point clear. As I ramble on of 
the adventures and sights which came to me in my 
underworld, there would seem to occur almost a 
rhythmic succession of happenings, one after the 
other, like the feats of circus performers who wait 
in the wings for their turn to come. This works 


a hopeless injustice to this water world. Please re- 
member that the exigencies of my place in that 
world, and the physical makeup of my helmet en- 
ables me to see only the merest fraction of occur- 
rences even in an acute-angled single direction. A 
horse with blinders is a reasonable simile, or better 
still, an aged, half blind old man, crippled with 
rheumatism and palsy and dropped suddenly with- 
out warning into the busiest of a city's streets and 
requested to narrate the happenings about him, and 
give to them some sort of explanation ! 

Now again, the ripples of the surface above me 
had scarcely died away to the usual heaving, 
opaque, moonstone appearance of my water sky, 
when a cloud came drifting past. If I had been 
looking behind me some time before, and had eyes 
which could penetrate the wall of blueness in the 
distance, this cloud might at first have seemed no 
bigger than a man's hand. Overhead, however, it 
was large enough to darken the whole bottom, and, 
except along the rim, formed a solid mass. At 
least twenty thousand slender little Galapagos 
snappers floated over and around me. They were 
only two to three inches in length, slender and sinu- 
ous, greyish black above, silvery below, with seven 
or more narrow dark stripes running parallel down 
the head and body. This was the clear-cut vision 
I had as the host drifted slowly, almost without 
individual movement, toward and over me. Some 
danger, forever unknown to me, wrought a whirl- 
wind in this living cloud, and instantly every fish 
vanished, — the whole becoming a mass of blurred 


lines, a great grey something out of focus. As 
quickly, fear passed, and every fish again became 
clearly etched in its place among its thousands of 
fellows. Slowly all passed from view, a few 
hundreds along the lower edge sifting through the 
uppermost fringe of weeds. It occurred to me 
then that their man-given name was a singularly 
appropriate one — Xenocys, — strange! swift! It 
should have been Xenocys ocenocys; they were too 
delicate, too immaterial for any noun. 

My sea-lion retm-ned for a last look but slewed 
off, and then a turtle, almost as long as myself, 
swam into my ken. He was a much more satisfac- 
tory constellation than any in the heavens, of most 
of which I have never been able to make head or 
tail. But he was a turtle at its best. Until one has 
looked up and seen eight hundred pounds of sea 
turtle floating lightly as a thistledown overhead, 
balanced so exactly between bottom and surface 
that the slightest half -inch ripple of flipper motion 
was suflicient to turn the great mass partly over 
and send it ahead a yard — until then one has never 
really seen a turtle. Two years ago when I visited 
these islands, I watched the little penguins wad- 
dling about with their ever inimitable gait, I saw 
the cormorants awkwardly climbing over land, 
even hauling themselves along by means of crook- 
ing their necks, the sea-lions unlovelily caterpillar- 
ing along the ground, and gi'eat hulks of turtles 
ploughing their way as much through as over the 
sand of the beaches. It was now my privilege to 
see these same creatures in their chosen element, 


graceful, glorified reincarnations of their terrestrial 
activities. In all of this I had no false illusions 
concerning my own relative functioning. While 
I have never heard any rumor as to my possessing 
any grace even at my best, yet on these same islands 
and beaches I can at least correlate my activity, 
and I can easily run down any of the creatures 
which I am discussing. Whereas here at the sea 
bottom I sprawl awkwardly, clutching at waving 
weeds to keep from being washed away by the 
gentle swell, peering out of a metal case infinitely 
more ugly than the turtle's head and superior to 
them only in my hearty admiration of their perfect 
coordination in an exquisitely adapted environ- 

My pleasant turtle friend still floated motionless, 
when suddenly he was the means of my making a 
delightful discovery in Einstein relativity, — mak- 
ing clear the fact that he was motionless and yet not 
motionless. I was resting lightly on a bed of 
weeds with a generous tuft of them in each hand. 
I was aware that with every surge there was a 
very decided movement of the whole mass but as 
everything in sight was equally shifted my mind 
registered no definite motion. Of one thing only 
was I certain, that however we plants and organ- 
isms at the bottom were blowing and vibrating back 
and forth, the turtle at least, isolated in mid-water, 
was as still as the distant rocks themselves. Be- 
coming cramped I decided to stand upright for a 
while, and gently lowered my feet until I felt them 
fit into convenient crevices of the concealed rocks 


beneath me. This gave me safe anchorage, and in 
a minute more all my surroundings, my whole 
world, went trailing off as far as it could, then, 
with equal unanimity, all faithfully returned. I 
glanced upward and was as astonished as if when 
on land I should suddenly see the moon or sun be- 
gin bobbing back and forth in the sky, for my 
turtle was behaving like everything else and being 
swayed back and forth, suspended in the invisible 
medium exactly as we at the bottom. To look 
back upon it, no more silly lack of reasoning could 
be imagined on my part, but when you leave the 
world for which God made you and wilfully enter 
other strange ones, it is reasonable to suppose that 
your senses and brain have to become readjusted as 
well as your more physical being. For five minutes 
I derived infinite delight in alternately swaying 
with the weed, and holding to the rock, and thereby 
at will giving to my turtle absolute stability or 
rhythmical swaying through space. He seemed 
quite unaffected by the theory, but fascinated by 
the sight of this strange copper-headed, white- 
skinned, worm-like being, with an enormously long, 
curving tentacle from the tip of its nose, forever 
pouring forth a mass of white, bubbly gas, and 
which idiotically kept standmg up and sitting down. 
Never for an instant did the great chelonian take 
his eyes from me. If I could put down what he 
actually thought of me no halting words of mine 
would be necessary in this chapter. 

And still the turtle hung in the sky when two 
penguins arrived. For a time they swam around in 


little intersecting circles, constantly plunging 
their heads beneath the water to stare at me. 
Finally curiosity overcame them, they could stand 
it no longer, and down they came, clad in mantles 
of silvery bubble sheen. They encircled me once, 
started on another round but then became fasci- 
nated by the black hose and after an examination, 
half paddled, half drifted to the surface and were 

Two mighty schools of Xesurus passed me graz- 
ing slowly. When within six feet they left off 
their eternal feeding and formed up into more or 
less orderly ranks which flowed like some enor- 
mously long sea-serpent around the identical cor- 
ners of rocks where had passed the leaders, yards 
and yards in advance. Invariably the formation of 
an irregular line led very close to me, the closing up 
of ranks evidently being connected with the pres- 
ence of danger or at least something suspicious or 
strange. It was an amusing sensation to have these 
hundreds of fish file past, all rolling their eyes at 
me as they went. I felt almost embarrassed at 
times, as perhaps "the remains" must occasionally 
feel as the viewing crowds stream past. With these 
yellow-tailed cows were widely scattered, single in- 
dividuals of a fish which we never caught nor identi- 
fied. In shape and in the general greyish blue color 
of body they bore a considerable resemblance to 
Xesurus, their characteristic marks being two 
white spots above the eyes. But they were not 
grazers, nor even, I believe, herbivorous. I never 
saw them graze even when the school of their asso- 


ciates remained in one spot, doing nothing else for 
a half hour but scrape the alg^e from the rocks. 
Once too, I saw one of these white-spotted chaps 
pursue a small fish, and though he did not capture 
it, yet I could not mistake his intent, — there was 
nothing of play nor yet of sudden anger in the 
attempt, but a very evident desire for food. They 
were much more timorous than the yellow-tailed 
surgeon fish and at any hint of danger would dart 
into the thick of the school. All this makes me 
think that they are very likely examples of real 
mimicry, gaining a good percentage of immunity 
by the resemblance to and close association with 
fish, which by their great numbers and poisonous 
spines are well able to fight off ordinary dangers. 
When I rolled over and looked about, there came 
to me a vision of the abundance of life in the sea. 
The cloud of little fishes had gone, even the ubiqui- 
tous yellow-tailed surgeons were out of sight for 
once, and yet from where I sat I could see not fewer 
than seven or eight hundred fish, not counting the 
wrasse and gobies which played around my fingers 
as thickly as grasshoppers in a hay-field. Out of 
the blue-green distance or up from frond-draped 
depths good-sized grey sharks appeared now and 
then. Two came slowly toward me, closer with the 
in-surge and then floating farther off with the out- 
swing. They turned first one, then the other, 
yellow, cat-like eye toward me, and after a good 
look veered off. Near to them were playing round- 
headed pigfish, a few Xesurus swam still nearer, 
and even small scarlet snappers, the prey of al- 


most every hungry fish or aquatic bird, even these 
went by without any show of nervousness. The 
pair of sharks passed on, aknost unnoticed, and all 
the mass of life of this wonder world seemed going 
smoothly and undisturbed. Far away in the dim 
distance one of the sharks appeared again, or it 
may have been another — when, looking around me, 
I saw every fish vanishing. While I have men- 
tioned what must seem an identical occurrence be- 
fore, yet this was as diflP erent as a great battle is 
from a street accident. Through copper and glass 
and air I sensed some peril very unlike the former 
reaction to the sea-lion, and I rapidly climbed a 
half dozen rungs, swallowing hard as I went to ad- 
just to the new altitude. Clinging close to the lad- 
der I looked everywhere, but saw nothing but wav- 
ing seaweed. The distant shark had vanished 
together with all the hosts of fish, even to the bully- 
ing, fearless groupers. I was the only living being 
except the starfish and the tiny waving heads of the 
hydroids which grew in clusters among the thinner 
growths of weed, as violets appear amidst high 
grass. Whether the distant shark was of some 
different, very dreaded kind, or whether some still 
more inimical thing had appeared — fearful even to 
the strange shark, I shall never know. Five minutes 
later, fear had again passed, and life, not death, 
was dominant (Fig. 69). 

I climbed to the surface at last, my teeth chatter- 
ing from the prolonged immersion. This water, 
although in no sense the Humboldt Current, is 
much cooler than that at Cocos and I become numb 


and chilled without knowing it. Excitement and 
concentrated interest keep me keyed up, and the 
constant need of balance requires that every muscle 
is taut, and then when I reach the surface and re- 
lax, the chill seems to enter my very bones. For- 
tunately there is always either rowing or pumping 
to do and this soon warms me. 

During my last dive I had noticed five or six 
new species of fish and hoping to hook some of the 
smaller ones I decided to get some bait. I had the 
boat backed near shore and at a propitious moment 
on the crest of one of the lesser swells I leaped 
off. The scarlet crabs here are remarkably tame, 
far more so than on any of the other islands, a fact 
for which I can in no way account. The casual 
visits of man may be of course ruled out as having 
nothing to do with it, and yet here birds and fish, 
the crabs' most deadly enemies, are unusually 

With two big, scarlet crabs I vaulted back on the 
crest of another convenient little swell, fortunately 
just avoiding the succeeding three, any one of which 
would have tossed our cockle-shell high up on the 
jagged lava. I found to my disappointment that 
we had between us only one hook and that a large 
one. However, I anchored again near the spot 
where I had last dived and threw over the hook. 
I immediately caught one of the round-headed pig- 
fish, about a foot in length. As I was pulling in a 
second one, a six-foot shark swung toward him and 
this gave me a hint upon which I acted at once. I 
pulled in the fish quickly and studied the situation 



















Fig. si. — Head of Sea Snake, from the Current Rip. 
Showing a patch of barnacles growing on the skin. 

Fig. 32. — Egg-case of a Deep Sea Ray, and the Nearly Hatched Embryo 

IT Contained. 

From the bottom nearly a mile down at Station 74. 


through the water glass. Two sharks were swim- 
ming slowly about the very rock where I had been 
sitting a few minutes before, probably the same 
individuals who had then been so curious about 
me. A small group of the pigfish swam around, 
over and below the sharks, as they had also done 
when I was submerged, sometimes passing within a 
foot of the sharks' mouths without the slightest 
show of emotion, of fear or otherwise. An angel- 
fish and two yellow-tailed cows passed, and a 
golden grouper together with two deep green 
giants of the same species, milled around beneath 
the boat, cocking their eyes up at us, now and then. 
I baited the hook with a toothsome bit of crab and 
lowered it. All the pigfish rushed it at once, and as 
it descended, the sharks and groupers followed with 
mild interest, almost brushing against it, but wary 
of the line. Failing to elicit any more practical 
attention from the golden grouper I allowed one 
of the pigfish to take the bait and hook. Then, 
watching very carefully, I checked his downward 
rush, and swung him upward. He struggled fiercely 
and like an electric shock every shark and grouper 
turned toward him. Without being able to itemize 
any definite series of altered swimming actions, 
something radical had happened. The remainder 
of the school of pigfish, while they remained in the 
neighborhood, yet gathered together in a group 
and milled slowly in a small circle. There was no 
question that from being a quiet, slowly swimming, 
casually interested lot of fish, the three groups — 
pigfish, groupers and sharks — had become sur- 


charged with interest f ocussed on the fish in trouble. 
I drew the hooked fish close to the boat, and could 
plainly see that the hook had passed only around 
the homy maxillary. There was not a drop of 
blood in the water, and the disability of the fish con- 
sisted only in its attachment to the line. Yet the 
very instant the struggle to free itself began, the 
groupers and sharks, from being at least in appear- 
ance friendly, or certainly wholly disregarding the 
pigfish, became concertedly inimical, focussed upon 
it with the most hostile feeling of an enemy and its 

For half an hour I played upon this reaction and 
learned more than I had ever seen or read of the 
attacking and feeding habits of groupers and 
sharks. When the struggling began the sharks all 
turned toward the hooked fish. Not only the one 
nearest who must easily have seen it for himself, 
but two, far off, turned at the same instant, and 
within a few seconds two more from quite invisible 
distances and different directions. What I saw 
seemed to prove conclusively that sharks, like vul- 
tm-es, watch one another and know at once when 
prey has been sighted by one of their fellows. The 
numerous sharks thus call one another all unin- 
tentionally, as when one of our party caught a 
shark at Cocos, and in an incredibly short time there 
were seventeen attacking it. On the other hand it 
must be admitted that sharks differ from vul- 
tures as widely as the poles in the matter of scent. 
Vultures all but lack this sense, while we know that 
fish have it well developed. But even in the case 


of blood in the water, it seems to me that diffusion 
cannot be nearly rapid enough to account for the 
instantaneous reaction on sharks near and far. The 
phenomenon is as remarkable in general aspect as 
the apparent materialization from the air of a host 
of vultures where a few minutes before none were 

Even more than in this problem, I was inter- 
ested in the exact method of feeding of sharks and 
groupers. After making sure of the first phase of 
interest, I allowed a six-foot shark to approach the 
hooked pigfish. It came rather slowly, then with 
increased speed and finally made an ineffectual 
snap at the fish. The third time it seized it by the 
tail and with a strong sideways twist of the whole 
body, tore the piece off. The second fish attacked 
was pulled off the hook, and two sharks then made 
a simultaneous rush at it. So awkward were they 
that one caught his jaw in the other's teeth and for 
a moment both swished about in a vortex of foam 
at the side of the boat. 

I noted carefully about thirty distinct efforts 
or attacks on the hooked fish, and only three times 
was I able by manceuvering the fish to get the 
shark to turn even sideways, never once on its back 
as the books so glibly relate. I sacrificed seven pig- 
fish, and then tried to get the golden grouper but 
it was too wary. A giant five-foot green grouper, 
larger than any we had taken thus far, was becom- 
ing more and more excited however, and when I had 
tolled him close to the surface I let my fish lure 
drift loosely. One swift snap and the entire fish 


disappeared, then a single slight nod of the head 
and the line parted cleanly. The general effect was 
of much greater force and power exerted in a short 
space of time than in the case of the sharks. When 
it comes to lasting power for only a short time, 
after being landed, however, the groupers fight 
while the sharks smash and thrash until they are 
actually cut to pieces. 

After this exhibition, without hesitation, I dived 
in the helmet again in this very spot with no change 
in the attitude of the sharks toward me. I had had 
these sharks close to me a little while before, and 
although my efforts under water seem to me no less 
awkward and helpless than a hooked pigfish, yet to 
these so-called man-eaters, there is apparently all 
the difference in the world, and I was absolutely 
safe from attack. 

Mr. Zane Grey, who, at my recommendation, 
went to Cocos and the Galapagos, had as his object 
big-game fishing, and as the following paragraphs 
will show, he underwent the same experience that 
we had, both when we were here two years ago on 
the Noma, and now again on the Arcturus. 

Fishing off Chatham Bay, Cocos Island, he 
writes in his book "Tales of Fishing Virgin Seas," 
— "The next hour was so full of fish that I could 
never tell actually what did happen. We had hold 
of some big crevalle, and at least one enormous 
yellow-tail, perhaps seventy-five pounds. But the 
instant we hooked one, great swift gray and yellow- 
green shadows appeared out of obscurity. We never 
got a fish near the boat. Such anghng got on my 


nerves. It was a marvellous sight to peer down into 
that exquisitely clear water and see fish as thickly 
laid as fence pickets, and the deeper down the 
larger they showed. All kinds of fish lived to- 
gether down there. We saw yellow-tail and am- 
ber-jack swim among the sharks as if they were all 
friendly. But the instant we hooked a poor luck- 
less fish he was set upon by these voracious mon- 
sters and devoured. They fought like wolves. 
Whenever the blood of a fish discolored the water 
these sharks seemed to grow frantic. They ap- 
peared on all sides, as if by magic. 

"By and by we had sharks of all sizes swimming 
round under our boat. One appeared to be about 
twelve feet long or more, and big as a barrel. 
There were only two kinds, the yellow sharp-nosed 
species, and the bronze shark with black fins, silver- 
edged. He was almost as grand as a swordfish. 

"While trying to get the big fellow to take a 
bait I hooked and whipped three of this bunch, the 
largest one being about two hundred and fifty 
poimds. It did not take me long to whip them, 
once I got a hook into their hideous jaws. The 
largest, however, did not get to my bait. 

"An interesting and grewsome sight was pre- 
sented when Bob, after dismembering one I had 
caught, tumbled the bloody carcass back into the 
water. It sank. A cloud of blood spread like 
smoke. Then I watched a performance that beg- 
gared description. Sharks came thick upon the 
scene from everywhere. Some far down seemed as 
long as our boat. They massed around the carcass 


:^iL I a B A J^ 


of their slain comrade, and a terrible battle ensued. 
Such swift action, such ferocity, such unparalleled 
instinct to kill and eat I But this was a tropic sea, 
with water at eighty-five degrees, where life is so in- 
tensely developed. Slowly that yellow, flashing, 
churning mass of sharks faded into the green 

Again Zane Grey writes from Darwin Bay, 
Tower Island, after hooking a huge shark: "Then 
the fun began. It really was not fun, but work un- 
der a hot sun, in a bobbing boat, with thundering 
surf always threateningly near at hand, and most 
unforgettable of all, with a school of huge black 
sharks following the one I had on. When I got 
the double line over the reel I kept it there, and 
as a consequence had the shark in sight all the 
time. His comrades glided between him and me, 
bumped the boat with their tails, and acted in every 
way to convince a reasonable angler of their dan- 
gerous mood. They were undoubtedly man-eating 
sharks. If R. C. had not been in sight and within 
call I never would have risked my life in that 
cockleshell of a launch, amidst a swarm of ravenous 
wolves of the sea. At length this one, like the 
other two, broke my leader, demonstrating fully 
that this especial kind of copper wire was useless 
for fishing." 

Now Mr. Grey is probably the foremost big- 
game fisherman of the world, and knows more of 
the habits of these fish from the sportsman's angle 
than any of his fellow human beings. Under the 
circumstances that he describes, few men, certainly 

Bodianus eclancheri (VALENCIENNES) 

(Average length fifteen inches) 



not I for one, would have dared to think otherwise 
than he did of the sharks of Darwin Bay. And yet, 
after all, their man-eating, dangerous qualities 
were circumstantial, and engendered by what he 
observed in their attacks on hooked fish, of their 
own or other species. 

Less than a month after he left this wonderful 
bay, the Arcturus anchored in it, and a few days 
thereafter Dr. Gregory, Ruth Rose, myself and all 
the rest of my staff were diving in helmets, and 
walking about the bottom, with these self-same 
"man-eating" sharks swimming by and around and 
over us, dashing at and taking our hooked fish, but, 
except for a mild curiosity, paying no attention to 
ourselves. It was as unexpected to me as to any- 
one, yet I will go on record as saying that it is per- 
fectly safe to sit or walk around, or climb up and 
down ladders and ropes, to leap or twist quickly 
about, or to sit motionless, protected only by a 
copper helmet and a bathing suit, among the sharks 
of Cocos and the Galapagos, whether they are 
swimming slowly along, or devouring some fish, 
dead or in obvious trouble. 



If heat is the mother of all life then water is 
surely its father. We came from the water, we are 
still absolutely dependent upon it, two-thirds of 
our entire body is nothing but water. In our 
physical frame we carry with us many aquatic 
memories, water-logged characters which point to 
distant amphibious or submarine ancestors. The 
mark of the sea is upon us though our home may 
be in the heart of a continent. 

The simplest of beings are inhabitants of water 
— mere droplets of movement, hesitant on the 
threshold of life, as yet neither quite plants nor 
animals. In comparison, a forming crystal may 
seem a great advance, a restless oil globule sug- 
gests a sentient organism. But the droplet of life 
can afford to rest motionless. It treasures in its 
minute nucleus a sdmething possessed by neither 
crystal nor globule. 

It would almost seem as if water, especially sea 
water, had some slumbering force within itself, a 
dormant sympathy for organic life which needed 
merely the slightest stimulus to awaken and to take 
its share in dynamic animation. A suspended cob- 
web vivifying the air about it into complex ac- 



tivities would be no more of a marvel than the 
jellyfish which moves through the sea and is itself 
the very essence of water. Dry it, and there remain 
neither bone nor tendons, disturbed organs nor 
traces of blood, but only the faintest of ghstening 
films, which disintegrates and blows away with the 
first breath of air. Yet imbued with its ninety and 
nine parts of salt water, it moves and contracts 
and throws its poisoned darts, it swallows and 
digests, and dimly sees and feels, it produces eggs 
and strews them like chaff as it slowly vibrates on 
its course. Yet so evanescent is it that it seems 
like some organic mirage. The eye often misses 
it altogether, looking straight on and through its 
being, and finally locating it by its shadow. The 
earth-wide basins of liquid gently sustain and ca- 
pably support the host of beings who experience 
life and death among the waves. In countless 
ways each tiny creature is ministered to, and given 
his chance to fight upward toward the unknown 
caste-to-come which seems the sole object of the 
existing of these lives. 

Important as water is to all higher creatures, its 
actual astounding j)ercentage in tissues and organs 
is more and more completely concealed from view. 
But always we perceive new, unexpected qualities. 
And when unusual demands are made they too are 
granted. Creeping upon the mud and coral are 
myriads of shellfish whose flesh would tempt every 
passing fish. So when their need cries aloud for pro- 
tection, the Father of Life comes to their aid. By 
some strange, secret alchemy they draw from the 


transparent water the hardest and most durable 
of walls, and encase themselves in shells of lime, 
of marvellous architecture and splendor of pattern 
and pigment. 

In the course of past time, fishes of the sea 
covered themselves with scales of shining silver 
and developed four important fins — prophecies of 
wonderful legs and arms and feet and hands, if 
one could only have known. But in those times 
the Great Father of Waters was in no fear about 
the desertion of his children. Fishes leaped from 
the waves and even learned to skim through the 
air on outstretched fins. But they always plopped 
back exhausted. And when other creatures in- 
sisted on clambering out on mud-banks and flip- 
ping themselves along, the great breakers merely 
chased them and good-naturedly rolled and tum- 
bled them back again into the green frothy water. 
And the ocean in those days swept round and 
partly over the half dried land, and the sound of 
the storm waves vibrated uselessly around the 
headlands and through the valleys, for there were 
no ears to hear. 

By the time the first little monkey climbed down 
a swaying vine for his evening's drink, the domin- 
ion of the sea had become lost in the past. The 
earth was galloped over and burrowed into by 
myriads of beings ; trees were perched on and bored 
through; the air hummed and whistled with wings 
and webs and leaping forms. So completely a 
thing of the past had the sea life become that 
many creatures had gone back to it as to quite a 


new element. Their old, old aquatic memories 
helped them not at all, and the penguins had to 
re-stiffen their feathers into scales, and to encase 
their wings in immobile mittens cut after the fash- 
ion of sharks' fins. And the seals ceased the run- 
ning about upon the land and became completely 
readapted to a sea life. 

So let us return, at least mentally, to the Sea, 
for there is no happening on land which cannot 
there be duplicated and often bettered. But to 
appreciate these similarities to the full, one must 
become amphibious. As well live in Kansas or 
Switzerland and know the ocean only in the ency- 
clopedia volume MUN to ODE, as sit in a deck 
chair and watch it pass or scan its waves with 
binoculars. To such a watcher no real secret is 
ever confided — he thinks in terms of waves and 
swells, and his eye is held by the horizon beyond 
which is the dry earth for which he longs. But 
to the aquatic devotee, the oceanic fan, surprise 
after surprise is vouchsafed, for to him the three 
elements are not phenomena wholly apart. 

We are grateful to the dry land for standing 
room, to the air for the breath of life. But any 
glance askance at the watery depths is but a piti- 
ful or a comic gesture when we remember that 
85% of our brain is water, and much more akin 
to salt than to fresh. To be sure we cannot drink 
salt water and live, but when necessary it is an 
admirable temporary substitute for blood itself, 
whereas sweet water would be a fair poison in our 
veins. Take the man who shudders at the thought 


of the ocean's depths, and put hmi in the midst of 
a tropical desert at breathless noon, or make him 
climb the Himalayan hills until his very marrow 
is frosted with the winds which caress Kinchin- 
junga, and his lungs cry out for their need of 
oxygen, — and his natal earth will seem quite as 
inimical as the great waves of mid-ocean or the 
black liquid depths. 

For countless voyages I have hung over the 
bow of passenger steamers in mid-ocean, making 
of myself a figurehead of sorts, straining my eyes 
downward to watch the living creatures which 
whirled into sight and swept past. Dolphins, fly- 
ingfish, tunny, an occasional shark — these are 
familiar to all who have ever glanced over the 
bow. But the rays of the slanting sun striking 
obliquely into the smooth surface often revealed a 
myriad, myriad motes — more like aquatic dust than 
individual organisms, which filled the water from the 
very surface to as deep as the eye could penetrate. 

Toward sunset these would vanish in the in- 
creasing dimness, and finally the bow would cut 
its way through an opaque, oxidized liquid, as 
unlike water as tar to glass. The moon overhead 
which showed in the waning day as a crescent of 
cloud, now cuts through the darkness like a sliver 
of gold. So the minute sea life becomes, in the 
dark, redoubly visible, and the ship ploughs a deep 
furrow through miles of star dust — phosphores- 
cence which will fill the last imaginative human 
being as full of wonder and awe as it did the first 
who ever ventured out to sea. 


As I have elsewhere explained, the floatmg 
oceanic life is known as plankton — indicating the 
helplessness of these wanderers, drifting about at 
the direction of the winds and currents. Even 
vaguely to estimate the abundance or numbers of 
these powdery clouds of animals of the ocean is 
to attempt a Herculean task, second only to num- 
bering the sands of the shore or the proverbial 
hairs of our head. One dark, moonless evening 
I put out a silk surface net the mouth of which 
was round, and about a metre or a yard in diam- 
eter. At the farther end of the net a quart pre- 
serve jar was tied to receive and hold any small 
creatures which might be caught as the net was 
drawn slowly along the surface of the water. 
This was done at the speed of two knots and kept 
up for the duration of one hour. When drawn in, 
the net sagged heavily and we poured out an over- 
flowing mass, of rich pink jelly into a white flat 
tray. This I weighed carefully and then took, as 
exactly as possible, a one-hundred-and-fiftieth por- 
tion. I began to go over this but soon became dis- 
couraged, and again divided it and set to work on 
one sixth of the fraction on which I had first 
started. After many hours of eye-straining and 
counting under the microscope, I conservatively 
estimated my 1/150 part of the hour's plankton 
haul as follows: 

Feathery copepods — Candace-like 7,920 

Bright blue copepods — Pontella-like 71,400 
Other copepods — Calanus-like, pink 139,320 


Bivalve crustacca — Ostracod-like 4,920 

Short-eyed shrimps 




Helix snails 


Purple lanthina snails 


Egg masses of snails 


Free eggs, various 


Arrow-like flying snails 


Nautilus-like flying snails 


Oyster-like flying snails 



If we multiply this by one hundred and fifty we 
get forty million, six hundred and sixty-two thou- 
sand individuals. Please remember that this is a 
very conservative estimate of only a few of the 
more easily counted groups in one small haul of 
an hour's duration, and the magnitude of the life of 
the sea will begin to dawn upon our minds. Twelve 
hours later — in full daylight — I repeated the haul 
as closely as possible and, instead of forty million, 
I captured about one thousand individuals of the 
corresponding groups. So although plankton is 
an involuntary horizontal wanderer, yet vertically 
it has more perfect control, and having developed 
its own system of lighting it will have nothing of 
the sun or even of moonlight, and remains well 
below reach of the stronger rays. 

My own interest in plankton is wholly that of 
trying to disentangle the lives of some of the small 
people — to put myself in their places by day and 
night, but I feel that I must establish their im- 


portance in the minds of more practical and far- 
seeing readers. Realize then, that even for our 
human race, the universe of plankton is of vital 
importance. The surface-loving copepods are 
commonly and correctly known as "whale food," 
and they are also the most important food of many 
fishes. Only at the surface can vegetable life exist 
and develop, changing sunlight into edible mater- 
ials, and in plankton diatoms and other plants 
affording satisfactory aquatic fodder to the small 
grazing animals about them. They thus start the 
ball of life rolling, which does not cease until it 
includes the possibility of continued existence for 
whales and food fishes, while, in the future, the 
whole human race may come to depend upon this 
larder of ocean. 

Indeed it is a remarkable fact that ship-wrecked 
men in an open boat, if their lot is cast on waters 
rich in plankton, need never starve to death if they 
can manage to drag an old shirt, net fashion, 
through the water at night. The great percentage 
of crustaceans makes plankton a rich, nourishing 
food, even raw. 

I can imagine no swifter way of killing anyone's 
interest in plankton than to put him in front of 
a pan of forty million swarming small folk. We 
have only a sort of hypnotic or at most super- 
ficial interest in a regiment or mob; and so I 
gave but the merest mechanical attention to the 
thirteen thousand odd lanthina snails in my count- 
ing tray. But when I lay flat on my pulpit plat- 
form and began scooping up, one by one, the 


creatures which for years I had watched go past 
out of reach, then my distant longings began to 
change into intimate acquaintanceships, and I 
learned to admire and to have a real affection for 
these little fellow beings who lived their lives with 
me on this whirling planet. 

Hummingbirds vibrate before flowers, alba- 
trosses skim for hour after hour over the waves, but 
sooner or later every bird must come to rest — its 
muscles exhausted, its wings aweary. But for the 
mid-ocean folk there is no rest as we know it. 
Somehow or other they must keep themselves 
suspended. A list of possible ways, thinking as 
always from our own experience, would include 
swimming or flying, treading water, balloons of air 
or gas, or clinging to some bit of floating wi*eckage, 
whether from a storm-broken ship, a bit of porous 
lava, or a pinion dropped by a passing seabird. 
All these and many others are actually in use, and 
had been so for millions of years before man had 
brain enough to make a list. 

Oblong pieces of whitish scum had tantalized 
me for many voyages, and even when I had 
emptied one of these bits from my net into a small 
aquarium I could make nothing of the mass of 
bubbles, until I looked beneath the surface and 
there saw that exquisite violet sea-shell with the 
euphonious name of lanthina. Although this 
snail lives in a home of tissue-thin lime, it yet 
spends its entire life at the surface of the ocean. 
Its relations which we know on land leave a trail 
of glairy slime wherever they walk, and lanthina 

Fig. 33. — Phyllosoma — A Transparent, Larval Crustacean. 

Fig. 34. — Porpifa, One of the Most Beautiful of the Floating Jelly- Fish. 

• gy^s 

i 1 « 


































still has the gland which secretes this, but has 
etherealized its use. The thin secretion is poured 
forth, and then, by successive upreachings of a 
part of the foot, bubbles of air are caught and en- 
tangled in the slime, which soon extends out as a 
narrow buoyant raft, the shell hanging down at 
one end. The bubble slime is not only balloon but 
nursery, and egg after egg is suspended from the 
lower surface. So abundant were these snails that 
I observed them with only general interest, think- 
ing of course that their whole life history was 
well known, but on my return I found that this was 
far from the case, and that few facts are known 
about them. 

There are two kinds of thrills in science; one 
is the result of long, patient, intellectual study. 
An example of this is the years of astronomical 
calculation whereby movements of certain heavenly 
bodies can be explained only by the existence of 
some unknown factor, and then one day this un- 
known but expected star is found at the very spot 
indicated by mathematical necessity. 

Another thrill lies in an absolutely unexpected 
discovery. Night after night small white spots 
floated about on the water just beyond the glare 
of the gangway electric lights. In vain we tried 
to net them. Now and then several would join 
together in a sinuous row and swim slowly along. 
At last, with an effort which almost precipitated 
him into the sea, Serge Chetyrkin scooped one up 
and dropped it into a small jar. To my astonish- 
ment I saw it was an argonaut or nautilus — a 


paper nautilus — which, in other words, is a dimin- 
utive octopus with the most exquisite shell in the 
world. Never have I seen a creature with a more 
explosive temper — we named her Mrs. Bang on 
the spot. Hardly had I changed her to a small 
aquarium when she angrily shot forth a cloud of 
sepia, and had to be transferred twice before her ink- 
bag was emptied and I could observe her clearly. 

She rested quietly on the bottom with her many 
arms wrapped about her beautiful brown and 
white shell. But as soon as my face approached 
the glass, she rushed back and forth, shooting 
directly at me or bumping against the opposite 
glass, and finally backing into a corner. Here 
she spitefully squirted spouts of water through her 
siphon, until I gave her a small fish. She snatched 
it ungraciously, bit its head off and ate the body, 
feeling suspiciously about with three or four arms 
in my direction the while (Fig. 15). 

Two days later she went into such a paroxysm 
of rage that she flung herself clear out of her 
shell. I carefully picked this up and found her 
eggs still remaining inside. There were thirteen 
hundred of them, even-ended ovals, about ten by 
fifteen millimeters, with a tiny thread at one end 
which attached them loosely together, exactly like 
a miniature bunch of grapes — the smaller stems 
growing out from larger and these in turn from a 
twisted, central rope. The embryos were in various, 
well-advanced stages, with the future eyes of the 
infant argonauts marked by two large, red spots. 

The shell of the argonaut is secreted by two 


great flat plates on the arms, and it was formerly 
thought that when, in calm weather, the owner 
rose to the surface, it sat back comfortably in its 
shell, raised the two broad arms aloft and used 
them as sails. Such a performance should properly 
take place only within sight of the fleets of en- 
tangled ships in the Sargasso Sea! 

I never tired of watching the squids and octo- 
puses which we captured. Soon after we landed 
the nautilus, Serge, with his usual skill, caught a 
two-foot squid which I studied for many minutes. 
It squirted sepia all over us and bit our hands 
before we could drop it in an aquarium. When 
it quieted down it pulsated slowly, while the colors 
came and went over the body in such a way that 
new adjectives will have to be coined adequately 
to describe it, — reds, blacks, browns, yellows, roll- 
ing, surging, springing into vision as the pigment 
spots contracted or expanded, a living, liquid 

The staring eyes were oval, and of an astonish- 
ing turquoise blue, and even on this surface, scarlet 
spots grew and passed — vanishing completely, 
only to reappear and coalesce so that the tur- 
quoise became carnelian. I looked into the sinister, 
narrow, cat-like pupils, and they seemed to express 
all the horrible mystery of things which should 
not be, — such as these monstrous, flabby creatures 
calling the snail, the slug, the nautilus and the 
oyster brothers — possessing not even the prestige 
of having fallen, like the humble sea-squirts, from 
higher aspirations — shellfish they are and nothing 


else. And yet unreasonably possessing an eye, 
as well as or better developed than our own. When 
to a low evolved mollusk thing, there has been 
given a "window of the soul" such as this, one 
wonders what secret, what thing of enormous 
value must have been bartered for it, what sin- 
ister transaction at some nefarious "Bureau 
d'Echange de Maux." A hand even, would not 
have been so unexpected, nor a foot patterned after 
those of infinitely higher beings, but such an eye 
should not be in such a body. 

Before we lose ourselves among the small folk 
of mid-ocean let us strike a contrast. Day after 
day, from the crow's nest or the bridge we caught 
sight of the monsters of the ocean's surface, — 
occasional sunfish so gigantic that, so long as they 
remained out of reach of a yard-stick, it were better 
for a scientist to call them merely exceedingly 
large. A layman might use the simile of a vertical 
barn-door and not exceed the truth. Indeed the 
same time-worn phrase if considered horizontally 
would be less than the actual fact if applied 
to some of the devilfish or giant rays which we 
saw. Now and then a playful one would leap 
almost out of the water, or pass close to the bow 
on its graceful, leisurely aquatic flight (Fig. 35). 

North of Narborough they were so numerous 
that three of the staff, Dickerman, Franklin and 
Cady, made up their minds to capture one. Assem- 
bling every weapon, legitimate and otherwise, which 
the Arcturus afforded, they set out in a tiny row- 
boat and made good. When, later on, we ana- 


lyzed the fight from the motion pictures, we 
reahzed that luck had surely been with us, for if 
the great fish had slapped its wing tips a little 
nearer and higher, the rowboat and devilfishers 
would have been flattened. When once a harpoon 
was deeply fastened to the fish, the battle became 
merely a question of trying to tire it out, and to 
hope that the injury inflicted by the hail of bullets 
would antedate the effect of their accumulating 
weight ! 

Something at last was effective and after two 
hours the devilfish surrendered and was towed to 
the Arcturus. Several lashings were broken be- 
fore it was at last drawn out of the water and 
lowered on the deck (Fig. 30). Here was a speci- 
men indeed, not to be placed on the stage of the 
microscope, but studied by walking around, over 
and almost into, for its gaping mouth was quite 
four feet wide. From fin tip to fin tip it measured 
exactly eighteen feet, and little by little as we cut 
it up we weighed the pieces and found it to total 
two thousand, three hundred and ten pounds. The 
liver alone weighed as much as a man, and we found 
a young devilfish about to be born, — a lusty infant 
weighing twenty-eight pounds and with a fin spread 
of over three and a half feet. As usual the fish had 
many interesting parasites. I took eight sucking 
fish from its gills and at least thirty more fell off 
when it left the water. On the skin were many 
weird-looking parasitic crustaceans. 

These great fish are not especially wary and a 
few days before when returning from a diving ex- 


cursion near shore we played with one for an hour, 
bumping into it continually with our bow and being 
splashed by the threshing fin-tips as it half turned 
over. There were two close together, each with a 
ten foot expanse of wings. They refused to leave 
or to go down although we pummeled them with 
the oars, and they were still swimming and rolling 
about when we left. 

Merely to enumerate the species of floating, liv- 
ing beings which we took in our surface nets would 
fill this chapter, so all we can do is to think for a 
moment of the most characteristic ones. If a cup- 
ful of pond water is examined, tiny creatures will 
be seen shooting about, and under the lens one of 
these resolves into a crustacean thing, with two 
enormously long horns or antennae, and a single, 
median eye. This is aptly named Cyclops, and is 
a member of the group of copepods. We may 
recall that these little beasts comprised thirty 
million of our enumerated plankton haul, and so 
abundant are they that they usually give the charac- 
teristic color to the hauls or even to the ocean for 
miles around, varying from carnelian red to deep 
madder blue. 

Oceanic crustaceans in general and copepods in 
particular correspond in numbers and variety to 
the insects among terrestrial creatures. Indeed 
as regards beauty and variety I can compare cope- 
pods only with snow crystals. Very small species 
often contained good-sized oil globules which 
seemed to serve the purpose of buoyancy, but 
these were lacking in larger, bizarre forms who 


relied on the most amazing development of ap- 
pendages, some having widespread, feathery tails 
affording a great expanse of surface for support 
in this thin medium. 

In the dark a small dish of this plankton would 
glow like a trayful of diamonds, but in the light 
no trace of luminescence could be detected. And 
yet, now and then, even under the binoculars there 
would come a flash as of fire opal. Little by little 
I narrowed this down until I had in the field of 
vision a single oval copepod, about an eighth of 
an inch long. When viewed from the side it 
showed as a mere tissuey line, but when it turned 
on its back every color of the spectrum was 
kindled. Sapphirina is its name, but Opalina 
would be more appropriate. 

Traces of Aquarius or Pisces might reasonably 
be expected in these submarine regions, but hardly 
of Sagittarius, and yet hardly any pipette of 
plankton would fail to show numerous little arrows 
shooting across the field of vision. These are 
worms in structure if not in conventional outline, 
but their name Sagitta makes up in aptness what 
they lack in vermiformity. They are transparent, 
slender and quite stiff, with well-marked fins. The 
entire anterior end is composed of a mouth armed 
with great teeth-like bristles, indicating a type of 
life and diet far different from that of the quiet, 
plant-eating copepods. 

Many of the day-time animals which called the 
surface of the ocean home, were ultramarine above 
and silvery white beneath, stained thus with the 


very essence of their surroundings, — a vital factor 
in helping to hide them from the eye of enemies 
which looked down upon them from the air, or 
upward from the depths. But at night a host of 
small creatures found safety in being divested of 
all pigment. In the course of evolution they had 
scraped off all the mercury from the back of their 
beings, becoming so transparent that the food 
which they swallowed was the most conspicuous 
and opaque part of their anatomy. 

I could never quite escape from a decided Alice 
in Wonderland feeling when I looked into a dish 
of night plankton scooped from the surface. By 
keenest scrutiny I could perceive only the usual 
hosts of small fry, when, reaching down and lift- 
ing out what seemed only an area of clear water, 
there would materialize before my eyes a Phyllo- 
soma (Fig. 33). This was a creature who cast no 
more shadow than the thinnest skim of clear ice. 
Yet it was a living animal, more than three inches 
long, with all the general organs which we our- 
selves possess, — eyes, mouth, feet, stomach, nerves, 
muscles and a strong will to live. Phyllosoma, or 
leaf person, was the only name I could give them, 
although glass crab would be more appropriate, 
for they were the young of some lobster-like 
crustacean and nothing is known of the inter- 
mediate stages. 

On land the barriers which confront animals are 
very apparent and tangible — mountains, deep 
valleys, rivers, lakes, the presence or absence of 
treeless plains, etc. At sea, living creatures are 


confined with almost equal rigidity by invisible 
walls. Temperature, salinity, pressure and light are 
some of the intangible and impassable frontiers. 
But the study of these requires a maximum of dia- 
grams and schedules which would be out of place 
in this volume. Nevertheless, there is drama and 
tragedy, plot and adventure, so let us consider sun- 
light and darkness, or even light and shadow. I 
have already told how the beings who love the sur- 
face of the sea at night are all but absent from it in 
the daylight, but many others are willing to come 
up if they can find the merest excuse or parody of 
a sheltering shadow. 

I will work up to concrete examples by a few 
minutes' observation from the pulpit, which always 
revealed the life and death need for even the slight- 
est protection. The most faithful attendants of 
the Arcturus were the tunny fish, who kept close 
to the bow hour after hour, yielding to the occa- 
sional dolphins but returning at once when they 
had gone. Looking down through the ultramarine 
film I saw a score of these fish metamorphosed to 
rainbow colors — rich violet bodies with yellow 
finlets and black tails. Now and then an unfortu- 
nate flyingfish rose, then a tunny turned aside, 
there was a flash in the air of molten silver and the 
tunny was back. A few minutes later a dense mob 
of several thousand half-beaks rose like hail. These 
fish are on their way to becoming flyingfish, and, 
sculling frantically with tail fins, skim through the 
air, like planes near the end of their taxiing run. 
Every tunny within sight flung itself headlong into 


the boiling mass, took toll, and returned to the 
pace-making bow race. 

Ten minutes more passed and a Pyrosoma 
drifted by — a great, pink, hollow, cylindrical 
colony of unfortunates who had just missed being 
vertebrates like the tunny and ourselves. Beneath 
this cylinder of jelly was a half-dozen pilot fish. 
For some reason — and this is the crux of the whole 
matter — so long as they crowded beneath it, no 
tunny paid any attention to them, although so far 
as actual concealment went, they might just as 
well have been hiding beneath mosquito netting or 
a Greek peristyle. As our bow approached their 
living roof they became panic stricken. All six 
little fish dashed out, and as if moved by the same 
mechanism, six tunnies gave six snaps in the very 
foam of the bow wave, and six little pilot fish were 
relieved from further worry about their destiny. 
It cannot be that the tunny fish do not see their 
ambushed prey, but as a cat will often wait until 
a mouse makes some movement before it springs, 
so there may be some instinctive, hair-trigger, 
piscine law, of vital moment to them, but which in 
our own case we would similize with the sporting 
chance of a wing shot. 

I came to have the feeling that far down beyond 
where my eyes could penetrate were uncounted 
hosts of little eyes peering upward, waiting for 
the revealing sunlight to lessen, as animals and 
flowers appear along the edge of retreating snow, 
following it, occupying every bare piece of ground. 
The cook would throw over an empty tin can, and 


if it failed to sink there would soon be a small 
fish swimming close beneath it. I could imagine 
the widening cone of shadow which the can cast 
downward and the fish, feeling its comfortable 
darkness, followed it up until it focussed on the 
bobbing bit of floating tin. 

In calm sunny weather as the Arcturus steamed 
along at full speed, few or no fish were to be seen 
in the open water. Then "full stop" would clang 
when I decided to sound or take temperatures and 
soon after we began to float quietly, on the shady 
side, fish, small crabs and other creatures would 
begin to collect, coming up from deeper levels into 
this premature twilight. These, however, were only 
the skirmishers on the edge of the great nocturnal 
host — that vast army who could never be fooled by 
an artificial night and who kept far down below 
the twilight zone, waiting for the blotting out of the 
sun before they began their upward rush. I had 
read of this interesting vertical migration before I 
started on the Arcturus and the contents of every 
net proved its magnitude. But not until I inaug- 
urated a series of twenty-four-hour surface hauls, 
taken at fifteen minute or half hour intervals, did 
I appreciate the clock-like regularity of the move- 
ment. After a little practice, I knew that if I 
wanted a certain type of nocturnal surface fish, a 
haul at 4.15 to 4.30 a. m. would invariably capture 
some, while the net drawn from 4.45 to 5 o'clock 
would never contain a single one. 

At Station Seventy-four, I made twenty-four 
hauls in as many successive hours and took over 


four hundred fish of twenty-six species. Up to 
6.30 in the evening all the more abundant surface 
fish of the daytime were captured, such as pilot 
fish, half-beaks, flyingfish and young Seriolas. 
After this, not one was ever seen, but promptly at 
7 o'clock six species of lantern fish, Myctophid, 
appeared, and a half hour later their enemies, such 
as Astronesthes, were taken. In early morning 
the reverse occurred, and only one species of lan- 
tern fish ever lingered after 4.30 a. m. up to which 
time they were taken in dozens (Plate V). 

In the case of most oceanic organisms we cannot 
tell by a casual examination whether they are 
diurnal or nocturnal, but even if we had never seen 
a living lantern fish, their equipment of lights, 
like that of fireflies, could mean nothing but a life 
spent in darkness. This luminescence in sea crea- 
tures has always held a great fascination for me, 
and when first I saw among a mass of plankton 
several of these fish, it was a memorable event, — 
like my first electric eel, or my last glimpse of the 
Himalayas. My interest in the subject was 
whetted when I had translated a recent resume of 
the subject and found that nothing but casual and 
fragmentary observations on living luminescent 
fish had been made, and these mostly by fishermen. 

Several times I rushed to the photographic dark- 
room with a dead or dying specimen, to see nothing 
but the gleam from the numerals of my wrist 
watch. Then one evening I filled a small aquarium 
with cool sea water and placed in it three newly 
caught Myctophids. Suddenly one of them flashed 



>,-, tr-r'T-rr- rr'r fv.'ii;^- 


-[ riA 




An Eater-of-stars {Astronesthes) in pursuit of two 
Lantern-fish {Myclophids) 

Fig. A. The fish in dayhght 
" B. The fish in darkness showing various types of 



Fin. A 



out so brilliantly that the glass dish, our hands 
and our faces were clearly outlined. Lin Segal 
and I spent many evenings in this research 
and recorded a great number of separate in- 
teresting facts, which, like all pioneer work, must 
be presented in their place without connection or 
correlation. Out of the mass, however, there are 
certain, ones which fall into orderly relationship, 
and give a faint but tremendously suggestive hint 
of the life which these fish lead in the darkness of 
their underwater world. 

I shall consider only the slender-tailed lantern 
fish (Myctophv/m coccoi) which I took in numbers 
both in the Atlantic and the Pacific. Imagine a 
minnow (Colored Plate V), which is irides- 
cent copper above and silvery white below, not 
over two inches in length, with large eyes and 
moderate fins. A full-grown fish weighed a gram, 
which means that it would take about four hundred 
and fifty to make a pound. It feeds on copepods, 
sagitt^e and other minute plankton fry, and from 
this food it generates energy to live, to fight, to 
migrate up and down, to keep illumined one hun- 
dred lights and to lay upwards of seventeen 
hundred eggs. 

Scattered over the body are many small, round, 
luminous organs, which we may divide into three 
general sets. First, thirty-two ventral lights on 
each side of the body, extending from the tip of 
the lower jaw to the base of the tail; second, 
twelve lateral lights arranged irregularly along the 
head and body, and third, a series of four to eight 


median light scales, either above or below the base 
of the tail. 

From the very first I directed all my attention 
to the possible utility of these lights. The lower 
battery, when going full, cast a solid sheet of light 
downward, so strong that the individual organs 
could not be detected. Five separate times when 
I got fish quiet and wonted to a large aquarium, I 
saw good-sized copepods and other creatures come 
within range of the ventral light, then turn and 
swim close to the fish, whereupon the fish twisted 
around and seized several of the small beings. 
Once it turned completely on its back. I could 
never have seen this except that the glass sides of 
the aquarium reflected sufficient light. Whether 
this is the chief object of the ventral lighting I do 
not know, but it is at least occasionally effective. 

Perhaps the best distinction between various 
species of this group of lantern fish is the arrange- 
ment of the lateral light spots, — indeed in the 
dark-room I could tell at a glance how many 
species were represented in my catch by their lumi- 
nous hieroglyphics. When several fish were swim- 
ming about, these side port-holes were almost 
always alight, and thus it seems reasonable to sup- 
pose that they are recognition signs, enabling 
members of a school to keep together, and to show 
stray individuals the way to safety. 

The light scales of the tail are apparently of 
great importance. Ordinarily when the whole fish 
is glowing with the pale, cold, greenish light of 
luminescence, these caudal lights are seldom seen. 


A clue to their use is to be found in the fact that 
they show a remarkable sexual difference, the males 
having them on the upper side of the tail base, and 
the females on the lower side. Of course in my 
necessarily brief and sporadic researches, when no 
fish lived longer than thirty-six hours, there was 
no chance to observe courtship or any such use 
which these lights might subserve. But when a fish 
exerted itself unduly to get out of the way of an- 
other, either of its own or another species, these 
lights would flash and die in quick succession. 
Three separate times in unusually strong, vigor- 
ous fish when the body luminescence was very dim, 
these scale search-lights flashed like heliographs, 
being much stronger than the combined, steadier 
glow of all the others. This luminescence was of 
a much deeper green than that of the ventral lights. 
If continuously alight, a single fish would enable 
one easily to read fine print. 

In the dark it was thus possible to distinguish 
species of lantern fish by the lateral hieroglyphic 
heliographs and the sexes by the upward or down- 
ward direction of the tail lights. I have never seen 
the latter illumination given out by a fish swim- 
ming alone in an aquarium. Although it is very 
evident that the caudal flashes have some sexual 
significance yet another very important function 
seems that of obliteration. It certainly was to my 
eyes, and I have no reason to think that a natatory 
enemy might not also be frustrated. When the 
ventral lights die out they do so gradually, so that 
the eye holds the image of the fish for a time after 


their disappearance, but the eye is so bhnded by 
the sudden flare of the tail hghts that when they 
are as instantly quenched, there follow several sec- 
onds when our retina can make no use of the faint 
diffused light remaining, but becomes quite blinded. 
A better method of defence and escape would be 
difficult to imagine. Although I sometimes cap- 
tured twelve hundred lantern fish in a single hour's 
surface haul, the wonder of this animal illumina- 
tion never became less marvellous. 

An hour or two after the first Myctophids had 
come to the surface, I would occasionally find a 
somewhat larger, black fish among them. In the 
glare of the laboratory electric lights this was not 
a very unusual-appearing fish, although it had a 
short, dependent chin tentacle and a mouth with 
exceedingly wide gape. It was a fish named 
Astronesthes (Col. Plate V), and for once the 
ichthyological Adam had showed imagination, for 
these Greek words mean "An eater of stars." Not 
until I dissected one did I realize the full signifi- 
cance of this title, for in each Astronesthes 1 found 
a full-sized, just-swallowed lantern fish, although 
the former was only about one-third longer than 
its prey. In the dark, this voracious black fellow 
was a gorgeous sight, the skin covered with a host 
of minute luminous specks, while the fins fairly 
glowed with pale green light. Curiously enough, 
it was the stem, not the specialized tip of the 
chin tentacle, which was luminescent. 

But I have given more than enough space to 
such plain unvarnished facts concerning these com- 


mon fish of the nocturnal ocean. On another trip^ 
with a foreknowledge of the ease of examination 
of living specimens, and consequently a wholly 
new set of apparatus, I hope to approach much 
closer to the meaning of their lives. 




I LOVE to think of the meeting places of the great 
elements, as where I sit in my bow pulpit in mid- 
Pacific. The sea is mirror calm with only the 
silent slipping past of lazy swells, more like evan- 
escent breaths on glass than actual movement. So 
clear and blue and still is the surface that I can- 
not tell where the liquid begins and the air ends. 
Now and then the bow dips and my feet gently 
sink below the surface. The air is quiet and neither 
hot nor cold, and the world is perfect, with all man- 
kind and his works out of sight behind me. I sit 
and solemnly make notes on the creatures I see, I 
ponder and wonder, and finally I am utterly dis- 
couraged at the thought of hoping to know the 
things of this planet any more clearly. Then comes 
a comforting thought, that after all I cannot expect 
to do much with a brain which has only one-ninth 
of tissue and substance to hold together the eight- 
ninths of water. 

Five distinct and separate smudges of rain 
beaded the horizon, and as my eye played idly over 



these, one cloud lifted with amazing rapidity and 
revealed Cocos Island, clear and green, as the hand- 
kerchief of a conjurer is raised and displays a 
bouquet of exquisite flowers where a moment before 
there had been nothing. 

I climbed at once up to the bow where I com- 
manded a wider prospect. As Cocos — alive with 
legends of pirate hoards of gold, with every head- 
land and inlet named after some brigand of the 
sea — as Cocos appeared before us, our approach 
to the island became perfect, — our escort began to 
form. As we neared it, great numbers of dolphins, 
those souls of drowned sailors, raced toward us 
in tens and tens and twenties, and gathered in all 
but solid layers about the bow and along the sides. 
I have never seen such hosts packed together. 
When we slowed up so that we could photograph 
them to better advantage, they all slackened speed 
and merely dipped and curved lazily in one spot, 
sighing as they exhaled. 

Long before the island showed any detail, boob- 
ies, the long-familiar red-foots, and a wholly new 
green-foot, hailed us as the newest things in con- 
venient perching places, the best dead trees they 
had ever seen, and our ratlines and wireless were 
crowded so that the birds touched each other. A 
few frigatebirds passed, some pure white terns 
swooped in the distance and — Cocos vanished. 
Over it, dark clouds materialized out of nothing, 
and the smoothness of the forested mountains be- 
came blurred and streaked with rain. Then a 
great curved arch of pale grey etched into the black 


rain cloud, a stain of some indefinable color ap- 
peared, deepened, and the island was crowned by a 
rainbow so brilliant that its edges seemed to carry 
human vision much farther along the scale than 
usual, — oui* eyesight almost interdigitating with 
heat on the one side and sound on the other. 

With the disappearing of Cocos into the en- 
veloping rain-clouds, my mind went back into 
equally obscure years of past centuries, when man- 
kind first sighted this oceanic speck. 

The discoverers of the Galapagos did not think 
enough of their find to attach a name to those 
islands which they were the first to see. But the 
man who discovered Cocos was even more indiffer- 
ent, for he appears not to have so much as men- 
tioned the circumstance that he had chanced upon 
this scrap of tropical jungle afloat in the Pacific, 
far from sight of any other land. At least, such 
a conclusion is an explanation for the fact that 
there seems to be no record of the first voyager to 
set eyes on its steep shores, laced with waterfalls. 

The first map on which Cocos is shown is that 
of Nicholas Desliens, in 1541. This was six years 
after Berlanga, Bishop of Panama, reported his 
accidental discovery of the group afterwards known 
as Galapagos. No doubt Cocos was as fortuitously 
found, perhaps by some Spanish captain explor- 
ing the new domains of the mother-country, per- 
haps by a filibuster fleeing with booty from the 
mainland. Malpelo Island was already well- 
kno^vn, as most of the ships plying those waters 
could hardly have helped seeing it, and the Gala- 


pagos were scattered over such a wide expanse of 
ocean that they were hkely to be seen now and 
then. But Cocos had an elusive quahty which it 
has not completely lost even yet. Surrounded by 
strong and tricky currents, concerning which much 
remains to be discovered, and very often veiled by 
such heavy mists and rainstorms that a ship may 
pass within a few miles without glimpsing a trace 
of land, the very existence of such an island has 
been denied in comparatively modern times. 

Of course in the 16th century, when navigation 
was more an art than an exact science, it is easy to 
understand that the precise position of Cocos was 
difficult to establish, and long after its discovery it 
was located at the caprice of the geographers, now 
south of the Equator, now north, moving from side 
to side, and on some maps completely ignored. For 
a while another island called Santa Cruz was fig- 
ured as lying to the northeast of Cocos, probably 
named by some navigator, who, obtaining a wrong 
position, thought that he had found a new island, 
which was really the ambulatory Cocos. 

At last Cocos came out fresh and green from 
her shroud of rain, and we slowed, sounding every 
few yards, drifting nearer and nearer until the 
heights of Nuez Island were well abeam to star- 
board, and Cocos itself loomed high over us. At 
the signal, in seventeen fathoms, the chain clanked 
and jangled through the hawse hole and we swung 
around head on to the stiff alongshore current. 

Here at last, on the ides of May, we were close 
to Cocos, three hundred miles off Costa Rica. It 


rose before us tiny and mountainous, only about 
three and a half niiles across, with two peaks in 
sight, deep-seamed with ravines, one of which was 
almost twenty-eight hundred feet in height. Here 
and there off shore were a scattering of rocky 
islets, but, as we later fomid, the bottom of the 
sea dropped abruptly downward in all directions. 
No greater contrast could be imagined than be- 
tween Cocos and the Galapagos — the one wet and 
green, the others dry and brown. 

Night came quickly, dark, with swift scudding 
clouds and an occasional hint of subdued moonlight. 
Hoarse, disembodied cries drifted down through 
the night, and the restless waters of Chatham Bay 
lapped along our vessel, as jungle grass brushes 
against the sides of a smoothly moving elephant. 

Dawn broke with the silent impetus of the trop- 
ics, and breakfast on this day lost all hint of a social 
rite, and became a hastily performed physiological 

Our atavistic pirate threw his tiny Panama dug- 
out and paddle overboard, dived after, baled it, 
crawled in, and sped shoreward, in the same spirit 
with which a pilgrim comes within sight of the 
Kaaba. No devotee ever climbed the seventy-two 
steps of St. Anne de Beaupre with more reverence 
than Don Dickerman, tumbled ashore by the break- 
ers, crept up the pebbly beach. 

I followed quickly and our little outboard motor 
vibrated rapidly across the bay. Great shadowy 
forms passed beneath, and now and then we had to 
snap the tiny propeller out of water as a giant 


grouper made a rush for it. Smooth white sand 
alternated with coral skyscrapers and volcanic vil- 
lages, fathoms beneath the clear water. I did not 
realize at that time that soon I would be walking 
the streets of this submarine world, and making my 
manners to their inhabitants. At the head of the 
bay series after series of three great rollers curved 
and broke, so I chose the eastern side where the 
surge struck obliquely against a line of mighty lava 
boulders. Rowing in stern first, I chose a moment 
of equilibrium, and leaped out, bracing myself as a 
waist-high surge swept past. Guns, nets and 
cameras were passed along and our first day on 
Cocos began. 

Wherever we went the way was barred by vege- 
tation through which we had to force our way. 
The only passable paths were up the center of the 
rocky streams which leaped and swirled down from 
the high interior. Four-fifths of the island is on 
end, with slopes so steep that the trees are set in 
at most acute angles. The rain which falls heavily 
for many months of the year keeps the island as 
saturated as a sponge, and the squashy yellow clay 
and dripping vegetation seem seldom to become 
even approximately dry. 

I walked along shore beneath groves of giant 
tree-ferns whose lacey foliage fretted the sky over- 
head. Every now and then a silver column of water 
would appear, falling from high up on the moun- 
tain, to spend itself in spray and a trickle over the 
pebbly beach. The sun came out and the whole 
island glistened like a jewel with a myriad facets. 


I came to a large stream and found a great boulder 
a few yards inland which gave a sight of the shore 
and of a glade at the forest's edge. Great orange 
and black brassolid butterflies hovered about the 
masses of morning-glories, hibiscus and clusia 
blossoms near by, while my view seaward was 
seamed by a hundred vertical lines of aerial rootlets, 
dropping from fig-trees high above. 

A sharp cry drew my attention to a bird swing- 
ing in a curve out from shore, sandpiper fashion, 
and when it alighted I knew it for a wandering 
tattler. Then a black spot on the sand exposed by 
the ebbing tide turned out to be a grey Galapagos 
gull, so interesting a straggler that I later secured 
it. It was pecking at an old fish, and as I watched 
I saw a small something run a few feet away. My 
glasses showed a large rat — apparently of the usual 
ship's kind — mangy to an unpleasant degree, much 
of the hair being gone from its back. It was 
munching a bit of old fish. Cocos was revealing 
strange inhabitants with still more strange habits. 

Suddenly the island, and tree-ferns and tropical- 
smelling jungle vanished in the haze of memory 
which a happy, lilting little song aroused, and on a 
branch a few feet away a yellow warbler sat and 
sang to me over and over his simple lay, which so 
often has meant early spring in my northern home. 
This bird is the same as the Galapagos warbler. 

There are only four species of land birds on 
Cocos and later in the morning, within a period of 
fifteen minutes, I saw all of them without moving 
from my boulder. A flash of rufous and a throaty 


note revealed the only species of insular cuckoo, 
my warblers were all around me, and then there 
came to my ears the sharp snap of a bird's beak and 
on the tip of the barrels of my gun which I had 
left propped against a rock, perched the Cocos 
flycatcher, hardly to be distinguished from the little 
olive-green Galapagos chap. In silence, finally 
came a simall flock of the only finch, anomalous lit- 
tle birds with rather slender curved beaks, the males 
in black, the females mottled with olive and buff 
as though permanently saturated by the everlasting 
rain. They flitted from twig to twig, playing at 
warblers, finches and titmice in their feeding habits. 
All the species of birds were seeking flying ants, 
small beetles and caterpillars. 

A favorite feeding ground was at the limit of 
high tide where I saw all but the cuckoo again 
and again. Here, too, came the ugly rats and twice 
we saw domestic cats, quite as wild as leopards, 
tearing at decayed fish, snarling at us and dashing 
away at our approach. The birds were as tame as 
those of the Galapagos, and when they were not 
seeking for food they were investigating us. On 
almost every tree were little Anolis lizards, scamp- 
ering up and down the bark, and in flecks of sun- 
light expanding their relatively enormous, flat, 
bright yellow throat wattles both to charm their 
mates and to intimidate their rivals. 

I picked out the nearest ridge summit and struck 
upward along an open grassy slope which, from the 
Arctiirus, had looked like soft clover. In reality 
it was far different — a sort of elephant grass, six 


to eight feet in height, with a saw-toothed edge 
which would cut to the bone if rubbed the wrong 
way. This we proceeded frequently to do, and 
when half-way up and making our way on knees 
and elbows, we discovered a species of nettle hidden 
here and there, and this was varied by an occasional 
nest of stinging ants. When we reached the sum- 
mit I decided to return by a circuitous route 
through a deep, jungle-filled gorge. 

Here we had only to slop and slither through the 
ferns and mud, now and then disentangling a rope- 
like liana which threatened to handcuff or garrot 
us as we descended. Being thoroughly drenched 
already and very warlm we purposely fell into 
the first big pool of the stream, lay on our backs 
and commented with vigor on the delights of any 
extensive search after treasure in this difficult isle. 
Overhead we watched most curious sights. Here 
♦vere hundred-foot trees growing so densely that the 
sunlight was dimmed to twilight, and high up on 
the topmost branches were perched scores of sea- 
birds — frigatebirds, boobies and pure white fairy 
terns — as out of place to our eyes as would be a 
cloud of dust in this saturated world. 

On our way down we spread a small net across 
narrow reaches of the torrent and caught great 
crayfish and curious little vacuum-cupped gobies. 
Once we saw a giant a foot long, and on another 
day captured it. 

I was astonished at the abundance of insect life, 
for other explorers of Cocos unite in dwelling on 
its scarcity. We took moths, large and simall, in- 


eluding two species of beautiful, pink-spotted 
sphinx, several kinds of butterflies, large brown- 
winged grasshoppers with enormously long anten- 
nae, funny little green cicadas, ants, mosquitoes, one 
small wasp, wood roaches large and small, and 
many giant dragonflies. Almost all these insects 
were clad in dull shades of black and brown, as 
were numerous beetles — elaters, long-horned, and 
weevils. One startling exception to this coloration 
was a weevil which stood out from the rest of the 
living creatures of Cocos as the daily rainbow con- 
trasted with the somber storm clouds; indeed this 
tiny gem had its wing-cases dusted with a powder 
so glorious that under the lens it gave back every 
color of the spectrum, with emerald green as the 
dominant tint. 

On my return to the Arcturus I frightened up a 
quartet of yellow-legs which flew after the tattler, 
and high overhead a hawk circled, the only one 
ever recorded for this island. The motor boat was 
anchored out beyond the surf and after fighting my 
way through the breakers and reaching the bow I 
saw a small green heron rise from the stern. 

Directly after lunch I dived a number of times 
near the western side of the bay, at the first plunge 
taking down a good-sized aquarium with me. I 
had found it quite impossible to harpoon or catch 
the small blennies and other fish which crept about 
close to the coral, and many of which were new to 
me. In spite of the heavy surge I balanced the 
aquarium on its side on a block of lava, and baited 
it with several limpets, then waited, half floating in 


mid-water, with a sheet of glass in my hand. When 
two rare, rose-colored blennies had entered I 
slipped the glass across the opening and had accom- 
plished my object. But then things began to hap- 
pen, — a heavy surge washed me sideways and not 
until I saw a mob of little fish excitedly clustered 
about my fingers did I notice the pale red cloud in 
the water and realize that I had cut my hand on 
the glass, and that the blood had drawn a swarm 
of these dainty vampires. Then a series of strenu- 
ous jerks on the hose notified me that something 
had gone wrong in the upper world, and I left the 
aquarium and began to grope and leap toward the 
ladder. To my surprise I seemed to make little 
headway, and then I looked back and saw that the 
anchor rope had chafed through and that my slen- 
der length of hose was the only connection between 
me and the boat. I redoubled my efforts and soon 
the Jacob's ladder caught for a moment on a pro- 
jecting coral ledge and I reached it and swarmed 
up. A few days later we made an effort to find the 
aquarium but could never locate it. However, I 
know that the glass trap will work and I shall try 
it again some day on a much more extensive scale. 

It was as well that I came up when I did, for 
by the time I reached the Arcturus a wicked blue- 
black squall was headed for us, and the waves were 
too high and choppy to be safe for a small boat. 
The storm came from across the island. I called 
back all the boats and made sure everything was 
safely tied down. The rain advanced in sharply de- 
lineated clouds, and instead of a solid sheet of flat 



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Fig. 36. — Unscientific Map of Cocos Island, 


























































































1— t 






green the island showed a host of unsuspected ra- 
vines and peaks, the onrushing downpour fiUing the 
first and silhouetting the latter, giving depth and 
perspective to the whole island, before blotting it out. 

About nine o'clock at night the wind arose in 
earnest and was soon blowing half a gale. All the 
boats were tied alongside, rocking and pitching in 
the rising waves. The night was black as ink, with 
occasional squalls of rain, each followed by an 
equally brief and even more sinister duration of 
calm. Our lights were all on and the brilliant glow 
made the surrounding darkness the more impene- 

Throughout this entire night of storm, boobies 
by the hundred and noddy terns by the score flocked 
to the steamer, covering the deck and filling the 
boats. They seemed to lose all control of themselves 
when they came within range of the glare from the 
electric lights. Yet they did not dash into the light, 
but merely alighted near it and remained quiet, 
or flopped about and fought with each other. 
Nothing showed the complete absence of man from 
this island as much as this. The terrific wind and 
blinding rain utterly confused the birds. All doors 
had to be closed, for otherwise they filled the state- 
rooms and laboratory, and their long, thrashing 
wings worked havoc until we ousted them. 

Taking a bird by the tip of one wing I would 
swing it about my head and cast it far into outer 
darkness, when, like a boomerang, it would right 
itself, describe a wide circle and return. I tied 
my handkerchief to the leg of one giant, green- 


footed booby, hurled it forth, and a minute later it 
was again at my feet, and I retrieved my property. 

The Battle of the Boobies will never be for- 
gotten by any of us. The silken swish of wind- 
driven rain, the thud and shriek of newly-arrived 
birds, the thrashing of powerful wings as they 
flapped against the deck-houses or engaged in 
gladiatorial combats, their hisses and screams when 
approached by us, and the shouts and helpless 
laughter of the embattled scientists, would have 
made a phonograph record that no uninitiated 
listener could have explained. 

These birds nested by the hundred in low trees 
along the shore of Cocos, and were now returning 
from their fishing excursions to relieve their mates. 
Their crops were full of recently swallowed fish, and 
their first instinct after landing on the Arcturtis 
was to deposit six to twelve neatly aligned, per- 
fectly fresh fish on the deck. Comedy was added 
to this performance by the sight of Dr. Gregory, 
armed with a big enamel tray, solemnly following 
the waddling birds about, picking up, with a for- 
ceps, specimens of rare fish which the unfortunate 
birds had intended as breakfast for their nestlings. 
The food was chiefly small flyingfish, half-beaks 
and squids, with a scattering of smaller species, 
especially Ophiohlenny. An ichthyologist never 
questions the source of his specimens! 

Later in the night cross currents of wind set in 
and the small boats began to labor at their moor- 
ings, twisting on their painters and piling up on one 


another. It became necessary to cut them adrift 
and in the terrific sea to row them astern and hoist 
them aboard. The sight was a strange one. As the 
first sailor went down the Jacob's ladder he had to 
kick one or two birds off each rung, and the boats, 
both inside and along the gunwale, were a perfect 
paste of boobies. It reminded me of old Japanese 
prints of boats filled with tame fishing cormorants. 
As we looked over the side, the air was filled with 
hundreds of squawking birds as large as geese, 
dashing through the spin-drift and the foaming 
crests of the waves. The sailors tried to protect 
their faces from the flying birds and at the same 
time to manipulate the half-filled boats. It was a 
risky, cleverly-executed piece of work, and ulti- 
mately all were saved (Fig. 40) . Our memory was 
thus enriched by another unexpected experience. 

Next morning the sun rose in a blaze of golden 
copper — a third of the sky being molten, the rest 
cold blue, while to the west beyond the island was 
the inevitable rainbow with its end buried deep in 
some inland ravine. Almost at once the sun was 
quenched and there was only the oily rolling sea 
covered with dead or sodden birds, and arched by 
the equally sodden sky. 

The waterfalls on the mountain sides had in- 
creased to foaming torrents, and tide lines were 
conspicuously marked with floating tree-trunks, 
branches and vines, and millions of green leaves, 
extending in a straight line along the axis of Cha- 
tham Bay and on to the northern horizon. With 


the coming of daylight we saw that our big Alba- 
tross launch, which had been anchored far inshore, 
had worked loose and vanished, and a search of 
twenty miles out to sea failed to reveal her. From 
the fo'c'sle there came excited rumors of the 
launch's engine having been heard during the 
storm of the past night, and hard on the heels of 
this myth were ready explanations of strange men 
who had found treasure on shore and, until now, 
had hidden from us until opportunity offered for 
escaping with their loot. But the prosaic fact was 
doubtless that she had sunk after chafing through 
her anchor rope, and is now the home of countless 
fish and octopus. In her is one of my diving hel- 
mets, a pair of Zeiss glasses, a bathing suit and a 
box of cartridges — all of which are now returning 
gradually to their original elements far beneath 
the restless waters of Cocos. 

Man has had so little to do with this speck of 
an island that all the historical facts we can gather 
are of interest. 

As early as 1600 the Dutch circumnavigator, 
Oliver de Noort, tried to find Cocos and failed, and 
in 1615 another Dutchman, George Van Spilberg, 
wishing to get coconuts and water there, missed it 
because he had its position as south of the Line. 

In 1684 Dampier had a similar experience 
aboard the Batchelors' Delight, so we lack the 
careful and accurate account which this conscien- 
tious observer would no doubt have written. In- 
stead he quotes hearsay: 

"The Island Cocos is so named by the Spaniards, 


because there are abundance of Coco-nut Trees 
growing on it. They are not only in one or two 
places, but grow in great Groves, all round the 
Island by the Sea. This is an uninhabited Island, 
it is 7 or 8 leagues round, and pretty high in the 
middle, where it is destitute of Trees, but looks very 
green and pleasant, with an Herb called by the 
Spaniards, Gramadael. It is low Land by the Sea- 

"This Island is in 5d. 15 m. North of the Equa- 
tor; it is environed with rocks, which makes it al- 
most inaccessible; only at the N.E. end there is a 
small harbour where ships may safely enter and 
ride secure. In this Llarbour there is a fine Brook 
of fresh Water running into the Sea. This is the 
account that the Spaniards give of it, and I had 
the same also from Captain Eaton, who was there 

The Batchelors' Delight was then on the way to 
attempt Realeja, and at that place Dampier chose 
to go with Capt. Swan in the Cygnet to the East 
Indies. Under Capt. Davis, on the Batchelors' 
Delight, was Lionel Wafer, "Chyrugeon." Soon 
after leaving Realeja, the crew began to fall sick, 
so Davis put into the Gulf of Amapalla. They lay 
there several weeks during which time 130 men 
came down with spotted fever, and many died. 
Wafer says, "Our men being tolerably well re- 
covered, we stood away to the South, and came to 
the Island Cocos, 'Tis thick set with Coco-nut 
Trees, which flourish here very finely, it being a 
rich and fruitful Soil. They grow also on the skirts 


of the Hilly Ground in the middle of the Isle, and 
scattering in spots upon the sides of it, very pleas- 
antly. But that which contributes most to the 
Pleasm-e of the Place is, that a great many Springs 
of clear and sweet Water rising to the top of the 
Hill, are there gathered as in a deep large Bason or 
Pond, the Top subsiding inwards quite round ; and 
the Water having by this means no Channel where- 
by to flow along, as in a Brook or River, it over- 
flows the Verge of its Bason in several Places, and 
runs trickling down in many pretty Streams. In 
some places of its overflowing, the rocky Sides of the 
Hill being more than perpendicular, and hanging 
over the Plain beneath, the water pours down in a 
Cataract, as out of a Bucket, so as to leave a Space 
dry under the Spout, and form a-kind of Arch of 
Water; which together with the advantage of the 
Prospect, the near adjoining Coco-nut Trees, and 
the freshness which the falling Water gives the Air 
in this hot Climate, makes it a very charming Place, 
and delightful to several of the Senses at once. 

"Nor did we spare the Coco-nuts, eating what 
we would, and drinking the Milk, and carrying 
several Hundreds of them on board. Some or other 
of our Men went ashore every Day. And one Day 
among the rest, being minded to make themselves 
very merry, they went ashore and cut down a great 
many Coco-trees; from which they gather 'd the 
Fruit, and drew about twenty Gallons of the Milk. 
Then they all sat down and drank Healths to the 
King, Queen, etc. They drank an excessive quan- 
tity; yet it did not end in Drunkenness: But how- 


ever, that sort of Liquor had so chill'd and be- 
numb'd their Nerves, that they could neither go 
nor stand: Nor could they return on board the 
Ship, without the Help of those who had not been 
Partakers in the Frolick: Nor did they recover 
from it under four or five Days time." 

Clipperton was the next famous person to visit 
Cocos. He was there in December, 1720, and 
January, 1721, and the record of the voyage is 
quoted from a book by one William Betagh, cap- 
tain of Marines with Clipperton's expedition, which 
was "chiefly to cruise on the Spaniards in the Great 
South Ocean." This book seems to have been writ- 
ten for the special purpose of confounding Cap- 
tain Shelvocke, who was in command of the Speed- 
well, under Clipperton on the Success. Betagh is 
full of grievances which burst out on every page, 
the very first being that Shelvocke did not appear 
at the rendezvous at the Canaries, so that Clipper- 
ton had to sail without any of the stores of wine 
and brandy which he had expected to tranship from 
Shelvocke's supply. "And I own it was very hard 
to be forc'd on a long voyage to the southward, 
when the sun was in his northern course, without 
either of those chearful supports of nature." 

In January, 1720, Clipperton scrubbed ship at 
James Island, and a fortnight later captured a ship 
which carried the Marquis de Villa Roche, Presi- 
dent of Panama, his wife and child. The Marquis 
was an old acquaintance of Clipperton, as the lat- 
ter, captured in former years in these waters, had 
been taken before the Spanish dignitary. Now, 


with the tables turned, the Marquis was held for 
ransom, but his wife and child were put ashore. 

All through that year the Success cruised about, 
having various adventures off the coast, none of 
which came to much. A plot to seize the ship was 
discovered among the crew, as they were discour- 
aged over the apparently fruitless voyage. At 
last, on Dec. 6th, "being unwilling to lose more 
time, we make our best way to the isle of Cocos, 
where we hope certainly to get fish, fowl and cocoa- 
nuts ; our people being very sick and weak 

17th at nine forenoon with joy we 

beheld the island Cocos about nine leagues N.W. 

"18th. Anchor in 13 fathom white sand. Here 
all our people and the Marquis de Villa Roche got 
ashore, where we build a house for the sick men. 
Here is abundance of good fish round the island 
which we take pains to catch, the surf being some- 
times very great. Our people find here plenty of 
coco-nuts, crabs, boobies and their eggs, this being 
their hatching time. Our captain broaches the last 
hogshead of brandy, allowing every man a dram a 
day; and on new-year's-day gave the people a gal- 
lon of strong beer for six. This food, ease, and 
refreshment pretty well recovered all our company. 
We wood and water, tho with much difficulty; for 
here is a great swell coming in from the northward 
constantly at full moon and change, therefore are 
forced to wait till the spring tides are abated be- 
fore we can get anything off. 

"Jan. 17, 1721. The Marquis came aboard as do 
most of our people, being ready to sail. Eight 


negroes and three of our men desert here and ab- 
scond in the woods. The names of our men are 
Higgins, Caulker and Shingle. The anchorage 
here being rocky we have sadly gaul'd both our 
cables. After continuing here a month, we weigh 
and set sail, from whence I take my departure, 
January 20th." 

It would be interesting to know the fate of the 
stout Anglo-Saxon, aptly-named trio, Higgins, 
Caulker and Shingle. 

In 1740 Anson sighted the island but did not 
attempt to land, altho his ships needed water. A 
scepticism which was unfortunate, in this case at 
least, kept them from benefitting by the lavish 
supply of precious water, and is voiced by Richard 
Walter in his record of Ajison's voyage: "Indeed 
there was a small island called Cocos, which was 
less out of our way than Quibo, where some of the 
Buccaneers have pretended they found water; but 
none of our prisoners knew anything of it and it 
was thought too hazardous to risque the safety of 
the squadron and expose ourselves to the hazard of 
not meeting with water when we came there on the 
mere authority of these legendary writers of whose 
misrepresentations and falsities we had almost daily 

In the summer of 1793 Colnett was here on the 
Rattler, on a voyage which had for its purpose the 
extension of the spermaceti whale fisheries, and the 
investigation of anchorages which would be useful 
to the whaling fleets. He had come from his first 
visit to the Galapagos, where he christened Hood 


and Chatham Islands, when he stopped at Cocos, 
and from thence he went to the coast of Mexico, 
and the Islands of Socorro, Santo Berto, and 
Rocka Partido. He seems to have been almost as 
devoted to his crew as the celebrated Captain Reece, 
commander of the Mantelpiece, and in his accomit 
of the voyage there is a careful description of his 
methods of keeping the men in good health. 

Captain Colnett has left us a long, accurate ac- 
count of his visit to Cocos, much of which has to do 
with helpful suggestions for future visitors. He 
suffered almost continual rain during his stay at 
the island, and concludes: 

"We were much wearied, during the four days, 
we passed off this island, and prepared to quit it. 
We therefore took on board, two thousand cocoa- 
nuts; and, in return, left on shore, in the North 
Bay, a boar, and sow, with a male and female goat. 
In the other bay, we sowed garden seeds, of every 
kind, for the benefit and comfort of those who 
might come after us. I also left a bottle tied to a 
tree, containing a letter. Over it I ordered a board 
with a suitable inscription, which Captain Van- 
couver thought proper to remove, when he anchored 
at this isle, some time after me. The letter gave 
only an account of my arrival and departure. Hav- 
ing made the necessary arrangements, we set sail 
for the Northward." 

Colnett and Vancouver were shipmates under 
Cook on H.M.S. Resolution in 1772-1775, Colnett 
as midshipman, Vancouver as able seaman. But 
when, in January, 1795, Vancouver, returning from 


the Sandwich Islands with the ships Discovery and 
Chatham^ put in at Cocos for water and found the 
letter left by Colnett two years before, he betrays 
no sign of ever having heard of the man before. 
His objections to recognizing this as the Cocos 
described by Dampier and Wafer seem incompre- 
hensible, as there is nothing extant in their accounts 
which appears radically or insuperably different 
from the reality. As for his remark that "this 
island cannot be considered as having a pleasant 
appearance in any one point of view," and his refer- 
ences to the "dreary prospect," one can only accuse 
him of having the Englishman's occasional afflic- 
tion in the tropics, a "liver" that casts a pathological 
gloom over the fairest landscape. 

Chatham Bay was named for Vancouver's armed 
tender, which lay at anchor there. 

It is to Sir Edward Belcher in His Majesty's 
Ship Sulphur, that we owe the survey of the coast 
of Cocos which is the basis for most of the charts 
of the island. Although Belcher made his maps 
in 1838, there is to this day an incomplete portion 
on the south marked "uncharted," a striking illus- 
tration of how little interest has been taken in this 
isolated spot, — at least from any point but that of 

It is worthy of note that although Belcher was 
here almost twenty years after the supposed date of 
the burial of the first lot of treasure, he makes no 
reference to it, and it is fairly safe to assume that 
he had not heard of the hoard. Probably the fame 
of Cocos, until the time of Keating's discovery of 

A Kt A »% Y 



treasure in 1845, rested wholly on the ease with 
which unlimited quantities of sweet water could be 
obtained, and during the years of the whaling in- 
dustry, it was a resort of ships, a place of rest and 
refreshment, a place to explore, in the intervals of 
getting wood, water and coconuts aboard. Cer- 
tainly they did not spare the coconuts and with char- 
acteristic indifference to the future, they obtained 
the nuts by the easiest method, which was to cut 
down the trees. There are still coconut palms 
on the island, but pitifully few compared with 
the old descriptions in which they seem to have 
been almost the dominant vegetation. During 
Captain Gissler's tenancy he planted more, as 
well as plantains, limes, coffee, and various vege- 

Captain Belcher writes, "On the 3rd of April, 
1838, we made the island of Cocos and on the fol- 
lowing morning observed two whale ships at anchor. 
. . . On landing, I was surprised to find a hut 
and several seamen, one Portuguese, one English, 
and five blacks, Americans, landed by their own 
demand from one of the American whalers. At 
first I suspected foul play, but on the masters of 
the vessels landing and stating the facts to me in 
the presence of the men, they acknowledged that 
they preferred living on the island to sailing in his 
vessel. Their contract was only 'from the Sand- 
wich Islands until they reached a port.' They 
were evidently bad characters. Their only subsist- 
ence was fish, pigs, boobies, noddies and other ma- 
rine birds frequenting the island. 


"Water is very abundant and was easily con- 
veyed by hoses into the boats. . . . 

"In Chatham Bay we noticed the rock mentioned 
by Vancouver, and left on another the Sulphur's 
name. . . . 

"Fish are abundant in Chatham Bay, but were 
not easily taken at the ship. The whalers sent their 
boats daily to fish in the tide stream between the 
small island and the main, and were very success- 
ful. Shell fish were scarce and few worth preserv- 
ing. ... 

"It was not without surprise that I read Van- 
couver's opinion of this island. The view of the 
two bays, with the magnificent S.W. cliffs and 
waterfalls, like silver threads, leaping from the 
richest and varied tints of green that can be imag- 
ined, would put a painter in ecstasy. Season, how- 
ever, may make a material difference. The same 
objects we view and are delighted with in sunshine, 
are dreary and uninteresting in gloomy weather. 

". . . The thicket is not now impenetrable, as 
the self -exiled whalers traversed easily from bay to 
bay. Goats are said to abound but keep to the 
heights. Pigs are plentiful and one large hog was 
sufficiently inquisitive to look into the tent at a 
distance of twenty yards. 

"The stream in West Bay produces fresh-water 
fish but we could not obtain any. A curious bull- 
head was taken, as well as fresh-water crustacean, 
at our watering-place. Some of our men, who had 
landed to wash and amuse themselves, found their 
way up the hill east of the water-course, and saw 


into the interior, which they described as a lake, or 
large sheet of water. This would account for fresh- 
water fish in West Bay. The quantity of water 
we had noticed in streams, waterfalls, etc., and 
which were not much augmented by heavy rains, or 
by the stream in our immediate vicinity, must be 
supplied from this lake. No rains could preserve 
the volume and equality for twenty-four hours." 

He also planted vegetable seeds. 

"Before my departure I used every persuasion 
with the masters of the Americans to take these un- 
fortunate people away, as well as pointing out to 
the people themselves the misery they must endure, 
and the foul suspicions which the next vessel would 
entertain of their conduct; but only one embarked." 

A year later, April 7th, 1839, "at nine we 
anchored, all heartily anxious to escape a rainy 
season in our present jaded state. An American 
whaler, according to their praise-worthy habit of 
assisting any friend in view, sent her boats to assist 
in towing the Starling to her anchorage; but we 
were too far out to partake of her aid. 

"On the morning following, I landed to obtain 
observations, and the early part of the day cer- 
tainly led me to anticipate all I looked for, but noon 
destroyed my hopes, the rain falling in a complete 
deluge. I succeeded, however, in obtaining the 
requisite data, and also witnessed the effect of the 
heavy rains on the streams ; converting a very quiet 
brook into a turbulent rapid in the course of a very 
few hours. 

"On my last visit, I mentioned that three men 


were left behind by an American whaler. These 
had remained a considerable time on the island, but 
were eventually taken off by another whaler; not, 
however, without poisoning the minds of part of 
her crew, two of whom were induced to try a similar 
experiment, and were now almost reduced to star- 
vation, notwithstanding the presence of their 
countrymen. The master, however, assured me of 
his intention of giving them a passage to Payta, 
the lesson of the former characters leading him to 
assume severity to the last moment, as a warn- 
ing to his own, as well as to the crews of other 

"The pumpkins had flourished, the whaler hav- 
ing collected fifty from seeds planted just a year 
before. The other seeds seemed to have been de- 
stroyed, but he planted more." 

The more recent historical events connected with 
Cocos belong more especially to the following chap- 
ter, in which Miss Rose treats of the era of treasure 

One of my last memories of Cocos is the most 
dramatic. I rowed across to the west side of Cha- 
tham Bay close to Nuez Island. This is a very 
lovely sliver of land, a few hundred yards long and 
with a steep, high ridge, the underlying rocks show- 
ing through the foliage — white shoulders through 
a tattered coat, while, on the lower reaches, long, 
flowing grass clings like the exquisite emerald pel- 
age of some somnolent behemoth. The figs and 
other trees drop showers of aerial rootlets which 
drape the island like gigantic beaded curtains. 


Every time I looked at Nuez from the Arcturus 
there came to mind Bockhn's Toten Insel. 

I anchored the flat-bottomed diving boat fifty 
feet off shore in the quietest spot I could find and 
then submerged in about thirty feet. Visibility 
was remarkably good and I could see clearly for 
one hundred feet in every direction. On one side 
enormous boulders piled themselves up higher and 
higher until they crashed through into the air and 
on up the slopes of this isle of death. In other di- 
rections the bottom sloped gently but steadily 
downward until it was lost in mysterious blue 
depths toward the abysses of the sea. 

The swell was heavy and the end of my sway- 
ing ladder reached alternately from twenty to 
within ten feet of the bottom, as the boat rose and 
fell on the surface. I knew my leaping ability in 
this gravitationless medium so I did not hesitate to 
drop from the lowest rung at the moment when it 
was nearest the coral floor. I landed on a table 
of lava and was at once the center of a school of 
great grazing fish, triggers, parrots and surgeons, 
the largest I had yet seen, with now and then a unit 
of swift carangids, gleaming like purplish jade as 
they shot past. Out of the blue distance there ma- 
terialized a man's-length of white-finned shark, 
then another and another, until sixteen were miU- 
ing slowly about between me and the surface. This 
was a new habit and an unexpected formation of 
these fish and I must admit that the ladder looked 
very long and very high above me. I was so un- 
certain of the significance of this gathering that for 


I— I 




















» « 

^ 22 
" O 


< "A 









a time I crouched in a circular cavity between two 
great coral growths, with my helmet in the entrance 
like a cork in some astounding bottle. The sharks 
showed no more than curiosity and, as usual, I was 
much more concerned with the ugly four and five 
foot groupers who pushed their unpleasant mouths 
within a few inches of my body and limbs. But 
when I saw the pigfish and the angelfish swimming 
unconcernedly about, I took heart and strode forth. 

In the dim distance I could see a very beautiful 
sea-fan and started for it. Never, even in the high 
Himalayas, have I ever breasted so stiff a wind as 
the push of this current which swept past Nuez. 
At times I was lifted clear off my feet and carried 
back. Twice I found myself at my starting point. 
So I went down on my knees, and with fingers and 
toes clung to every step which I gained. With 
me went the brobdingnagian groupers and the lesser 
fry of angelfish and always overhead circled the 
sharks. My hose had trailed behind now and was 
no longer the hub of their orbits. For a while I 
was the center of attraction in this part of the 
Pacific Ocean. 

After much effort I reached my sea-fan and hung 
on to it while I floated in mid-water, waved about 
by the current Hke a rag on a bush. My body-guard 
had thinned out, and twisting around, I saw a tiger 
shark weaving slowly toward me. I would gladly 
have given my place to any eager scientist in the 
world, or relinquished it to one of the thousands of 
men with more courage than I possess. But at 
least I was not bothered with a choice of action — 


there could be no thought of escape by flight. I 
crouched close to my wisp of sea-fan, although hid- 
ing behind it was as effective as an attempt to con- 
ceal oneself behind a handful of ostrich feathers. 

The shark appeared enormous — thirty feet came 
to my mind. Then, like Dunsany's ghost-watcher 
at the Castle of Oneleigh, I sought to distract my 
fear with geometry. I estimated the shark's length, 
I compared it with other fish near it, and I was 
more composed by the time my mind settled on 
eighteen feet as the extreme length I could assign 
to it. I had already faced scores of sharks and 
even other tiger sharks in my diving, but never so 
large a one, nor in such unprotected surroundings 
nor without at least a grains in my hand. The great 
elasmobranch came on until I could see the black 
veins in its yellow, cat-like eyes, and the loose, 
adenoid-gape with its lining of triangular teeth. 
The mighty tail swept farther to one side, the shark 
veered — and passed. An unusually heavy surge 
once carried it far back toward me, but it never 
turned and soon vanished beyond the shadow of the 

When I breathed slowly again I braced myself 
and with all my might dragged the animal bush 
from its moorings, and waving it like a purple ban- 
ner, I returned, leaning hard back against the cur- 
rent. With no take-off except a low crouch I 
leaped upward and slowly rose through eight or ten 
feet of water and seized the lowest rung. For a 
while I hung there, soothed by the lift and settling 
of the deeper curve of successive surges — surges 


which, fifty feet away, were crashing into foapi 
against the cliffs of Nuez. I looked around at the 
scattering hosts of Xesurus, troggers and angelfish, 
watched a trio of sharks meandering casually along 
beyond them, and, with a final gasp of wonder at 
it all, for the last time in these waters I climbed 
until my upraised hand thrust the great purple sea- 
fan into the open air. 




The stairs creaked dismally, and an elevated 
train roared by, as I climbed the dimly lighted 
flights. On each landing a gas-jet wheezed and 
cast trembling shadows on closed doors, behind 
which muffled voices could be heard, and I won- 
dered if any of those huddled lives would make as 
strange a story as that of the man I was going to 
see. My mind dwelt on things so incongruous to 
this setting as surf-pounded beaches, leaning 
palms, steep jungle hillsides, for I was in search of 
a sailor who for twenty years had dwelt with his 
wife on an otherwise uninhabited Pacific island, 
while he sought for pirates' loot that was buried in 
that lonely spot more than a century ago. Surely 
no one can dispute his title to the record for continu- 
ous, non-stop treasure-seeking. Beaten for the mo- 
ment, but undiscouraged and with his faith un- 
shaken, he is now living in New York, remember- 
ing tree-ferns under a tropical moon, while he 
watches the flicker of an electric sign behind the 
pillars of the "L." 



August Gissler, German by birth, sailor by 
choice, first heard of the Treasure of Cocos in 1880. 
He has written a book on his wanderings in search 
of clues and his adventures on the island, which, 
when published, will give in greater detail than is 
possible here, the story of a lure that has drawn men 
— and women — from all walks of life, from a hun- 
dred different ports, that has made the name of 
Cocos known over the world, and that, in the case 
of Captain Gissler, was strong enough to hold him 
during a great part of his life. He has seen expe- 
ditions come and go during his sojourn, and is 
qualified to speak with authority of the effects on 
the human animal of those potent words "buried 
treasure." It is to his generosity that I am in- 
debted for the use here of some of the material from 
his own book. 

This chapter pretends to be no more than an ap- 
proximation of the facts, for many of the tales of 
Cocos have more than one version, and it is hard to 
sift out the truth in those cases where completely 
trustworthy records do not exist, — or are, at any 
rate, undiscoverable ; its chief interest must lie in 
the story of the man whose pluck and persever- 
ance kept him to his self-appointed task in the face 
of every obstacle and discouragement. 

Buried treasure! That is surely the most ro- 
mantic phrase in the language, warranted to bring 
a sparkle to the dullest eye, and to quicken the 
pulse of a paralytic. Quite baseless rumors of such 
hoards have sufficed to cause excited stampedes, 
so it is not surprising that the tale of the cache on 


Cocos, fairly well-authenticated as it is, should 
have inspired all sorts of people with a desire to 
try theii* luck, even when they had no more to go 
on than the location of the island, and a lucky feel- 

Captain Gissler tells one story of an expedition 
that started in Pittsburg, outfitted in San Fran- 
cisco, and landed on his beach one day, filled with 
confidence and armed to the teeth. They were pre- 
pared for battle, murder and sudden death, treason, 
mutiny and marooning, but they had somewhat 
neglected the subject of just where the treasure 
was hidden. They had no tattered old map, no 
cryptic key; they had come from Pittsburg be- 
cause "a man" had furnished them with the clue 
that the treasure was to be found a hundred paces 
from the wreck of a pirate ship. This upwards of 
a hundred years since a pirate had been in these 

Captain Gissler says, "When I showed them 
what fools they were, they could see it too, but they 
couldn't see it till I told them!" 

Cocos looks very small on the map; when the 
would-be treasure-seeker finds that it is only three 
and one-half miles in diameter, (though as most of 
the island is on end, the actual distance covered in 
traversing it must be three or four times as much ) , 
his hopes rise, and he is seldom dashed by the ad- 
ditional calculation that this area comprises about 
sixteen square miles. But when he finds himself 
actually occupying a fraction of those miles, miles 
of dense thickets, close-woven vines, sharp-edged 


grass, steep ravines and all-too-frequent torrents 
of rain, the spade in his hand dwindles to an inade- 
quate toy, and his compass-bearings seem always 
to bring him to spots where recent landslides have 
obliterated the clues that he was so sure of find- 
ing when he should reach this island El Dorado. 

The origin of the treasure of Cocos goes back 
to the year 1820 or '21. At this time there was an 
ex-officer of the Portuguese navy, a man of good 
family, who fell upon evil days and turned pirate. 
His name was Benito, and he is generally referred 
to by the euphonious appellation of Benito Bonito. 
He lived up to the best traditions of swashbuckling 
and bloodthirsty piracy, and ravaged the West 
Indies and the east coast of South America with 
great success. He dealt savagely with his crew 
when necessary, and owing to certain prudent 
habits, such as never appearing on deck without a 
drawn cutlass in one hand and a cocked pistol in 
the other, he flourished for several years. At length 
the Caribbean became too hot even for one of his 
ebullient ways, and he rounded the Horn to ply 
his trade along the western coasts from Peru to 
Mexico. He made several rich hauls, and is sup- 
posed to have buried on Cocos a collection of loot 
worth millions of dollars. Not long after, he was 
captured, and he and most of his men were hanged. 
Two who escaped were called Thompson and Cha- 

Some years later, after Peru had won her 
independence from Spain, that South American 
republic was in the throes of civil war and counter- 


revolutions. Much of the private wealth of Lima, 
together with quantities of church plate, was sent to 
the fort at Callao for safety. When an attack on 
the fort seemed imminent, and its impregnability 
doubtful, the treasure, estimated in the millions, 
was transferred to an English sloop that was at 
anchor in the harbor. The temptation of such 
riches between decks was too much for the captain 
and crew ; during the night they killed the Peruvian 
guards, slipped anchor and stole away. The cap- 
tain's name was Thompson, and he is said to be the 
same man who had sailed with Benito. A less 
fitting name for the ship in which this piratical 
deed was performed it would be hard to imagine; 
she bore the demure title of the Mary Dear. 
Whatever her nominal shortcomings, she was a 
fast sailer, and outdistanced pursuit. There was 
no port on the mainland for which they dared to 
steer, so when they came, by chance or intention, 
within sight of Cocos, it was determined to bmy 
their loot till some more propitious time. 

This accomplished, they ran for Central Ameri- 
can shores, but were captured and taken into 
Panama Bay by a Peruvian ship. Here every man 
aboard the Mary Dear was hanged on the spot, 
except for Captain Thompson and one other. 
They were spared to show the hiding-place of the 
treasure, but they escaped by jumping overboard 
in the night, and swimming to an English whaler 
that lay at anchor. Here they concealed them- 
selves until the whaler had been several days at 
sea, and on emerging, were welcomed by her cap- 


tain as additions to the undermanned vessel. 
Thompson was evidently not born to be hung. 

Thus Cocos became the Treasure Island, par 
excellence, of the world. Thompson, the god from 
the machine, the repository of secrets, the man who 
had twice seen tremendous wealth buried on the 
same small patch of land, is next heard of in 1844. 
In that year a ship bound from an English port to 
Newfoundland carried a few passengers, among 
them a man with an air of mystery. One of the 
sailors, a native of St. John's named Keating, 
made friends with him, and received the confidence 
that the passenger was not anxious to draw the at- 
tention of the authorities. On arrival, Keating 
took the man as a lodger in his own house, and 
observed that he never ventured abroad in daylight. 
At length the stranger revealed himself to his 
host as Thompson, told him of vast treasure on a 
Pacific island, and showed a rough chart of the 
Cocos depository. There are several versions of 
what happened next ; one story says that Thompson 
died, another that he fled in the night from un- 
known enemies, still another that he went to Lon- 
don, where Keating followed and obtained further 
particulars. At any rate, Thompson, having served 
his turn, disappears from the stage for good. 

The known facts are that Keating interested a 
firm of merchants in the project of recovering the 
treasure, and that they outfitted a vessel to go to 
Cocos. Keating was an illiterate man, unable to 
read or write, to say nothing of knowing anything 
of surveying, so one Captain Bogue was sent with 


him to figure out the positions given on Thompson's 
chart. There was also the ship's captain, Gauld, 
who considered himself the head of the expedition. 
The merchants had erred in so distributing author- 
ity, for there was bad blood between Gauld and 
Bogue long before they reached their destination. 
At first they quarrelled; then they sulked; and at 
last worked off their pent-up spite by leaving in- 
sulting notes to each other on the dining-table ! 

The most disastrous effect of this petty 
squabbling was that in the course of it the crew 
learned the object of the voyage, which had 
been a secret when they sailed. When at last they 
dropped anchor at Cocos, Keating and Bogue 
hastened ashore alone for a preliminary sm'vey. 
Having (so Keating's story goes) verified the 
chart and located the treasure, they returned aboard 
with exultant looks, to be confronted by an openly 
mutinous crew with an ultimatum. They were all 
to share equally in whatever was found. In vain 
the two men protested that those who had financed 
the expedition were entitled to divide the profits. 
The crew became so threatening that Keating and 
Bogue, in fear of their lives, pretended to consent. 
That night, while the sailors were noisily celebrat- 
ing the money that they thought was as good as in 
their pockets, the two leaders put food and water 
in the big whaleboat and cautiously pushed off from 
the ship. Stealthily they rowed to the beach, and 
in spite of darkness and dense undergrowth, located 
the treasure and brought to the shore as much as 
they could stagger under. 


The rest of Keating's story is a mass of contra- 
dictions. He eventually reached St. John's, alone, 
where he exchanged gold pieces and some bars of 
bullion to the value of only about 1300 pounds. 
Bogue was never seen again. Keating said that 
he had been drowned, so laden down with gold 
ingots that he could not swim, but sometimes this 
tragedy was said to have taken place when trying 
to launch the boat on that exciting night at Cocos, 
and sometimes it happened in Panama Bay, which 
the two men were supposed to have reached in the 
open boat. There was a half-hearted attempt to 
try Keating for murder, but in the absence of a 
corpse, the case came to nothing. 

Captain Gissler, who has weighed and sifted 
every available scrap of information, has a very 
plausible explanation of the two men's movements 
on the night of escape from the mutineers. He does 
not believe that Keating ever knew the spot 
where the treasure was concealed, but that Bogue 
left him to guard the boat ( a very necessary precau- 
tion on Cocos beaches, with their heavy surf ) while 
Bogue made his survey and paced off the distance. 
That was in the daytime, on their first landing. 
That night the same thing happened ; Keating kept 
the boat from smashing on the beach, while Bogue 
groped his way to the cache, and returned with all 
he could carry. It might very well be that the two 
men disagreed then and there, and that the snow- 
white terns, roosting in the fringing trees, were 
wakened by angry voices and the sounds of a 
struggle. Or perhaps there was no noise but the 


sound of one blow, and then the laboring breath of 
the survivor as he strained and tugged to launch 
the boat alone. 

At any rate, Keating seems to have been a 
marked man and to have led but a sorry life mitil 
he died. Those who did not shun him as a sus- 
pected murderer, fawned upon him as the posses- 
sor of the key to vast wealth who might be flattered 
into sharing his secret. His second wife, years 
younger than he, thought that in the course of 
many curtain lectures she had surely obtained suf- 
ficiently detailed information to enable her to find 
the remaining gold without difficulty, but as will 
be told later, her search came to nothing when she 
finally reached Cocos many years after Keating's 
death. In fact, what he told her led her to search on 
a different side of the island from the place where 
the treasure cave could be found, according to what 
Keating confided to a man named Fitzgerald. 

Casting back and picking up the trail of Cha- 
pelle, the second man of Benito's crew who es- 
caped hanging, he left San Francisco in 1841, 
bound for the South Seas, and was never heard 
of again. Before leaving, he turned over to a 
friend some papers, among them an extract from 
the log of Benito's ship, indicating the location of 
the treasure. This was the genesis of half a 
dozen expeditions that at various times have fitted 
out in San Francisco. 

When in May, 1925, the Arcturus spent ten days 
at anchor in Chatham Bay, we found abundant 
evidences of treasure-hunters. Rain-filled pits. 


spades and picks perforated with the rust of years, 
corrugated remnants of huts, were to be found 
along the shores. The records of many ships were 
carved on great boulders at the mouth of the stream 
that rushes down the ravine and spreads in a broad 
shallow across the beach. The oldest ones might 
have been written in a strange invisible ink, for at 
low tide they were indecipherable on the sun-dried 
tablets of the rocks ; then at high water, as the first 
breaker dashed over them, the weather-worn letters 
magically appeared like a picture resolving in a 
crystal. The earliest date that we could read was 
1797, left by "HIS BRIT MAG' SCHr LES 
DEUX-AMIS." We looked in vain for Van- 
couver's name and date, to the carving of which 
he refers. Other inscriptions, some much garbled 
and incomprehensible, are here set down: 

Bk VIRGINIA— MARKS— A. Savvely 1875 

H R VIGILANT Sept 3, 1862 

Jos GRANT Nantucket 



BARK, Tybee, Feb/58 

G. Duffy Oct. 30 1843 

BRIG Adeon Wm Low Nov 20—1830 

J. Maria ZELEDON Julio 22 1879 


P. H. 1851 

S. ENTERPRISE N. T. Dec. 1855 

Ship SUSAN P. Howland Aug. 26 1851 

BARK Java Nov 14/56 

N. P. J. R. Lawrence 


P. Cleveland 1864 


J. BOND, Marblehead 








MARIPOSAx 1 :6 Px 1871 x 1870 

C. MARKS Sep. 1871 


A. A. Campau 1852 
Ship JOHN 

Ship Royal B. Oct. 1849 H. P. 
JORUVE Nov 1813 
G. TODD 1813 

T. NEWTON Norfolk VA M 1 3 



14. 1852 
Brick des M^e le GENIE, Com™ PML C^^ ^^ 

I Nov. 1846 
PF LIEN Sranville 1840 
FRANCIS L. STEEL Mar. 28. 1871 


B. COLCOND May 15 1863 

S. H. HARRIS N. Bedford Apr. 15—1842 

May 21 R. C. Fay 1842 

G. N. MACY 1853 


SHIP UNCAS H. C. Bunker Falmouth Sept. 

28 1833 
Ship ALEXDR. COFFIN D. Baker Nantucket 

Oct 12 1833 
SHIP ATALA G. Winship BOSTON 1837 

18. 1831 

H U . M. 25 

Sept 1797 
Sch ROSCOE MAX— 7-1870 



E. H. FISHER J"- May. 7. 1863 


SROST 1855 

T. O. Simpson 1850 Sept. 18 



It was fascinating to attempt the reconstruction 
of scenes that have taken place here, and, hke the 
detective of fiction, put ourselves in the places of 
those men who came here with untold wealth and 


were confronted with the problem of conceaHng it. 
There are only two possible anchorages, Chatham 
and Wafer Bay, neither of which permit a ship to 
lie nearer than a quarter mile from shore. We 
imagined the Mary Dear and her crew dm-ing 
the weary work of disposing of boatloads of specie 
and bullion. Anyone who has ever seen the place 
feels exhausted at the mere thought of their labors 
after the booty was landed. Of course they would 
not bury it on the beach, so they must have trans- 
ported it painfully, a very little at a time, along the 
swift, rocky streams, or up the slippery hillsides 
and across the chasms with which the island is rent. 
And no one would envy them the task of excavat- 
ing, in the root-filled, stony soil, a hole large 
enough to contain millions of dollars worth of 
precious metal. 

On one of the two rainless days which we had 
during our stay, Betty and I set off inland. Hav- 
ing had experience of land routes, abounding in 
razor-edged grass, wet clay soil that converted the 
hillsides into tropical toboggan slides, stinging ants 
and, in spots, all but impenetrable undergrowth, we 
followed the stream bed from Chatham Bay. It 
is a wonderful river, both for its pictorial quahties, 
and for the unhmited possibihties of exercise that 
it affords. Where it leaves the jungle to flow across 
the beach, branches laden with blossoms arched 
across its gurgling cool shallows. Splashing along, 
for a while all our attention was concentrated on 
mere progress. Here we crossed a tiny sand-bar, 
with water only to our ankles ; beyond would be a 


line of boulders, damming the stream so that a pool 
of swimming depth barred our way. We wanted to 
keep our collecting bags dry, but we had no such 
ambitions for ourselves; a week at Cocos would 
make anyone feel web-footed. 

Then we would take to the bank, making a pre- 
carious way along the overgrown slope until the deep- 
est places gave way to navigable shoals once more. 

Not a hundred yards from the beach, is a huge 
boulder bearing a mark that has some resemblance 
to a sombrero ; this has been regarded as a clue, and 
used as a landmark by many a hopeful explorer, 
and is generally referred to as "Benito's Hat." 
The stream was filled with stones, ranging from 
those that turned treacherously underfoot, to huge 
blocks six or eight feet high, over which we swarmed 
clumsily, clutching at any convexity and wriggling 
to the top, to descend the other side with a final 
splash. At a fork there was a tiny island, present- 
ing in miniature a perfect environment for the col- 
lector. A rotten log, a stump, minute pebbly pools, 
small saplings, and a few large stones yielded to 
our inspection termites, ants, little crayfish, large 
locusts, and several species of spiders, as well as a 
beetle or two. The main branch of the river turned 
to the left, but as some of the party had already 
gone that way, we decided to try unexplored 
ground, and follow the right-hand, smaller stream. 
A bank of pebbles drew oui' attention to a cave in 
a rocky out jutting of cliff; it was a shallow depres- 
sion under the overhanging hill, and in it were the 
bones of a large bird. 


A few yards further on, a cascade fell sheer 
down from a sixty-foot height. There was no pos- 
sibility of climbing up at either side, so we made a 
detour to the left, and searched for foot-hold. It 
looked fairly simple; there were plenty of trees to 
grasp and cling to, while the next step was con- 
sidered, but we soon found those trees were rooted 
no deeper than grass. The tree-ferns were particu- 
larly deceptive; thick, sturdy-looking trunks grew 
out at convenient angles from the cliff, and the 
weight of a few pounds sufficed to dislodge them 
entirely, and with them a cartload of earth and 
rocks. Testing every cautious inch, with faces 
pressed against the ground most of the time, we 
wormed our painful way to the top without casual- 
ties. A sharp ascending ridge led us to a hill-top 
almost clear of undergrowth, where a few gigantic 
trees grew. They were as beautifully spaced as 
though a landscape gardener had planned the vista, 
and almost every inch of trunks and branches were 
covered thick with parasitic plants. 

We stood panting, and watched four finches that 
flickered among nearby twigs. In the thick jungle 
tree-tops sat frigatebirds, looking as out of place 
as sailors on horseback. Lizards darted about in 
the bromeliads that encrusted the trees. The 
silence seemed unbroken and unbreakable. Then a 
tiny faint cry sent our glances upward. Not more 
than two feet above our heads hovered a snow-white 
fairy tern, dainty wings beating with incredible 
rapidity to hold it in this spot. Turning its head 
from side to side, it hung there for a long time. 


looking down at us, and we could feel the little 
breeze from those immaculate fanning wings. 
Standing in that lovely sea-girt forest, in the 
jungle hush of noon-day, we thought of a Biblical 
snow-white bird with no feeling of sacrilege. 

Then another and another came, and the trio 
hovered fearlessly about us till, their curiosity satis- 
fied, they fluttered away among the trees. We 
continued the wide circle we had commenced and 
finally rejoined the river, which at this height was 
no more than a small brook, flowing in a deep 
ravine, with sides so steep and slippery that it 
was impossible to leave the stream-bed, no matter 
what obstacles were encountered in it. The 
densely-wooded hills towered almost straight up 
at each side and made even midday gloomy to us 
at the bottom of this narrow crack. The vegeta- 
tion was swamp-like in its luxm'iance and character, 
and many of the plants were an unnaturally vivid 
green, like artificial things. When we reached the 
top of the waterfall that we had circumnavigated on 
the way up, we hung over the edge and watched the 
falling sparkle, while we chose a way down. Noth- 
ing could be worse than the way we had come up, 
so we decided to try the other side for our descent, 
and discovered that going down is always worse 
than climbing. I am sure that we defied gravita- 
tion most of the way, and the proceeding was not 
made easier by each of us finding the other's pre- 
dicaments and postures irresistibly funny. 

The last few feet we fell, abruptly and simul- 
taneously, and landed near the little cave, caked 


with mud, thoroughly scratched, very hot and com- 
pletely happy. With a piece of soap, brought with 
great foresight, we scrubbed ourselves and our gar- 
ments in a deep pool, and floundered back to the 
beach, with a new respect for the buriers of Cocos 
treasure and the conviction that wherever they de- 
posited it, it was not above that waterfall. 

Three sailors from the Arcturiis, in a cross- 
country scramble, found rusty shackles attached to 
a post that was deeply embedded in the ground, 
amid rotten boards that seemed to be the collapsed 
fragments of a hut. This gave rise to excited 
speculations, but later, in Panama, we found that 
the Costa Ricans (who own the island) had for a 
short time maintained a convict settlement on Co- 
cos, of which these things were probably the relics. 
The prisoners must have heard of the golden store ; 
perhaps the chance that one of them might find it 
lightened their penal labors. 

Convicts, peers, philanthropists, journalists, 
middle-aged widows, sailors, adventurers, — they 
have all played their parts in the Cocos story. More 
than one company has been formed, has issued 
prospectuses and sold shares in proposed expedi- 
tions, — and more than one has never left port. The 
catalogue of ships that have actually sailed for 
Cocos would be a long and tiresome enumeration, 
but there are interesting details about some of them. 
In 1875 one of the Pacific Steam Navigation Co.'s 
ships came treasure-seeking, and one of the crew. 
Bob Flower, while scrambling over the island, 
slipped, rolled down the side of a steep ravine, and 


literally fell into the treasure, or at least some por- 
tion of it. Tradition says that he brought away as 
many coins as he could carry, and the story is 
always quoted as being "well-substantiated," but 
by what or whom it is not easy to discover. If he 
found more than he could carry, it seems likely that 
his shipmates would have been more than willing to 
lend him a hand. 

Two Englishwomen outfitted a ship and went to 
Cocos, equipped for a stay of ten weeks. They an- 
nounced that the treasure — when found — would be 
used to establish an orphan asylum in London, but 
their supplies gave out when they had no more than 
begun their battle with the island jungle. They 
returned to London and convinced a firm of hard- 
ware dealers that they knew the very spot where 
excavation would reveal vast riches. A ship of 
500 tons was chartered, provisioned for six months, 
and great steel boxes with special locks were built 
into the hold for the safe storage of the treasure. 
Five months of frantic industry on the island found 
them none the richer, except for augmented muscles 
in the hardware business. Thoiii^ the capitalists 
finally weakened, the women remained confident, 
and returned to London with the avowed intention 
of finding more big hammer-and-nail men. 

An excited German, who had been exploring 
Cocos with five other men, returned to New York 
to interest zoological societies or circus exhibitors 
in a project for capturing the dragons that make 
that tropical island their home. He had seen 
dragons there, their footprints in the sand, their 


gleaming eyes far up in the tree-tops at night, and 
he was sure that it would be feasible to snare a 
young one for zoo or sideshow. His companions, 
who had spent weary hours in making imitation 
dragon spoor and hoisting into the trees perforated 
cans containing lighted candles, restrained their 
heartless glee long enough to let him place the 
proposition seriously before Barnum and others. 
In 1880 August Gissler was a sailor aboard a 
ship taking Portuguese immigrants from the 
Azores to Hawaii to work on the plantations. Just 
after they rounded the Horn, the chief engineer 
was disabled in a storm, and the condenser, upon 
which the immigrants were dependent for water, 
broke down. Gissler had had some experience in 
steam and volunteered to try his hand on the ma- 
chine. After two days and nights of hard work, 
he got it into some sort of shape, so that it was not 
necessary to put in anywhere for water. One of 
the Portuguese offered to help him in the daily 
task of filling the bottles, which the thirsty steerage 
passengers brought to the door. The two men 
amused themselves with learning each other's lan- 
guage, and with the aid of a dictionary, were get- 
ting on famously long before they reached their 
destination. One day the Portuguese told a story 
that his grandfather had left to him in manuscript, 
concerning a treasure that was buried on a Pacific 
island, called Las Palmas. The grandfather had 
helped to bury it when he was one of the crew of a 
Portuguese freebooter called Benito. Gissler 
copied the manuscript, and kept it as a curiosity. 


Eight years later, Gissler was living in Hawaii, 
having taken up some land there. A friend of his 
married a half-caste girl, daughter of a native 
woman and an old white man, whose only name 
seemed to be "Old Mac." His son-in-law told 
Gissler that the old man had in his possession a 
chart showing where there was a treasure, but that 
he had always refused to tell how he came by it. 
In after years, Gissler came to believe that Old 
Mac might have been Chapelle, but at that time he 
knew nothing of the involved tale of Cocos. 

Gissler remembered his Portuguese manuscript. 
He unearthed it among his papers, the friend per- 
suaded his father-in-law to let him take the chart, 
and comparing notes, they decided that Las Palmas 
and Cocos were the same. Sped on their way by 
gloomy prophecies from Old Mac, as to the evil 
effects on human nature of finding treasure, they 
sailed for San Francisco, taking with them the 
eleven-year-old son of Gissler's friend. From San 
Francisco they reached Punta Arenas, hoping to 
find a small schooner in which to sail to Cocos. 
The day they arrived, two men accosted them in 
English, asking if there was any chance of getting 
work thereabouts. They pointed out their schooner 
in the harbor. 

"Why are you flying the Nicaraguan flag? 
Smuggling?" asked Gissler. 

"Worse than that," they replied, "We've been 
looking for buried treasure on Cocos Island." 

They were two young journalists from Ottawa, 
infected with the Cocos germ through an acquain- 


tance who thought he knew the location of the loot. 
At his instigation they had bought the ship in San 
Francisco; when they reached the promised land, 
their guide took them ashore, pointed to a large 
hole that some one had dug, and announced tri- 
umphantly, "There, — I told you there was treasure 
here." Which seemed to be the sum of his knowl- 
edge. Between disgust and discouragement, they 
did not even look further but started back and 
reached Punta Arenas, penniless. They wanted to 
sell the schooner, which fell in perfectly with Gis- 
sler's plans, but when he went aboard, he found 
her nothing but a sieve. 

"For God's sake, what have you been doing?" 
Gissler demanded. 

"Pumping day and night to keep afloat," they 
confessed, and the last he heard of these latest vic- 
tims to the lure of Cocos, they were in the interior, 
working in the mines. 

No boat suitable for Gissler's purpose tm-ned up. 
The boy came down with fever, and his father de- 
cided to take him home, leaving August Gissler to 
continue the expedition alone. 

"If you find anything, I leave it to you to do 
the fair thing," was his valedictory. 

At length a Swedish barque, loading cedarwood, 
came into Punta Arenas. She was short-handed, 
and Gissler shipped as mate on condition that en 
route to Valparaiso they should go to Cocos and 
stay ten days while he looked about and checked up 
on his information. They sighted Cocos one day, 
but then, like so many mariners before them, they 


were becalmed, the mists came down, and in the 
grip of the strong cm-rents they drifted helplessly 
away and did not see the island again. Arrived at 
Valparaiso, a ship's broker was interested in the 
story, and eventually a company was formed and a 
ship chartered. The captain and every man in the 
crew received, instead of wages, shares in the prob- 
lematical profits of the voyage. Thus Gissler first 
reached the spot that was to be his home, the place 
to which so many of his memories are bound and 
where his hopes still center. 

In Chatham Bay the ship anchored for a fort- 
night. Then the captain grew uneasy; his stores 
were decreasing, and he saw no profits accruing 
here, while he knew of cargoes that he might be 
carrying up and down the coast. Gissler had not 
finished cutting his lines to survey the bearings 
given on his map, so the ship sailed promising to 
retui'n at some future date, and left him with three 

The provisions were divided man for man, those 
on board sharing equally with those left behind. 
With Gissler stayed Mike, a Dane, "who had lived 
with Irishmen so long he was as bad as one him- 
self," Anderson, a mechanic, and Holm, "who was 
not a practical man." On the hill in the center of 
Chatham Bay they built a hut from some boards 
and pieces of corrugated iron that they found, 
probably the remnants of the convict settlement. 

It was almost eight months before they saw the 
ship again. Food ran short, of course, and from 
boards they built a flat-bottom boat in which to 


row along shore to gather coconuts and try for wild 
pigs, which ceased to frequent Chatham Bay with 
the coming of men. They used to row to Nuez 
Island when the sea was calm enough, to get boob- 
ies and their eggs, and had many desperate times in 
the cranky craft among currents and sudden 
squalls. The haanmer of their only gun was broken, 
and Anderson succeeded in repairing it so that 
sometimes after pulhng the trigger a dozen times, 
it would go off. The difficulty was to make a pig 
stand still during the first eleven attempts. There 
were several flurries of excitement when they 
thought they had located the treasure, but they did 
less and less speculating on the subject of gold as 
they became absorbed in the attempt to obtain food. 
Also they were rapidly reaching the point where 
they shirked unnecessary exertion. Sometimes, 
tugging weakly at their roughly-fashioned oars, 
they would be overtaken by one of those nasty 
squalls which swoop down on Cocos, and then they 
would labor ashore at the first possible landing- 
place, turn the boat upside-down on two stakes, and 
perhaps spend the night huddled beneath it, talking 
and dozing, and smoking dried leaves in their pipes. 
Mike was the life of the party, and Captain Gis- 
sler still chuckles reminiscently over some of his ex- 
ploits, particularly in the pig-killing business, when 
he would stalk a sow in the tall grass, armed with 
nothing but a machete, which he would throw at the 
pig to trip it, and then, if that manoeuvre succeeded, 
grappling with the kicking creature in Homeric 


One day, months after they expected relief, a 
schooner was sighted. She seemed to be headed for 
the island, but eventually drifted away and was seen 
no more for twenty days, when they woke one 
morning to find her dropping anchor in the bay. 
She had been sent out by the company in Valpa- 
raiso, and several of the men were those who had 
been there on the previous trip. The first remark 
of her captain was, "Wliere's Frank?" 

He was the mate, also of the first party. 

"Frank?" said Gissler, completely puzzled. 
"How should I know?" 

When they had first sighted the island, days 
before, and had seen that the ship was going to 
have trouble in fetching it, Frank had put off in 
a small boat with provisions, fearing that those 
marooned there so long might be suffering for 
want of supplies. One man went with him. They 
had seemed to be making good progress landward 
for some time; then the mist had shut down, and 
they were seen no more. The captain supposed 
that Frank had reached the island days before the 
ship did. 

He was given up for lost. Weeks later, when the 
expedition reached Valparaiso, Frank was the first 
person they saw as they stepped ashore. He had 
drifted for eleven days, becalmed, and bailing con- 
stantly to keep the open boat from sinking in the 
torrents of rain, before he was picked up off- 

"Hello!" said Frank, "I got here first." 

The next attempt on Cocos was made the fol- 


lowing year, and the ship stayed this time, lying 
in Chatham Bay as before. Mike was again the 
bos'n. He went ashore one day to hmit pigs and 
surprising a large boar, fired and missed. The pig 
rushed at him, and as Mike excitedly clubbed his 
gun and swung at the animal's head, the weapon 
was discharged and Mike fell. It was dark before 
the others knew what had happened. Captain Gis- 
sler went ashore with a lantern, found him and 
bandaged him as best he could: a little tarpaulin 
shelter was rigged over him, and one man stayed 
to watch. \Mien Gissler came back from the ship 
towards morning with a stretcher that he had 
worked all night in making, Mike was dead. His 
last words were, "To hell with the island!" 

He is buried on the point of land that reaches 
out towards Nuez, the spot where the accident hap- 

This expedition was as fruitless as the first, but 
Gissler saw that the location of the hoard would re- 
quire a long residence, and careful consideration 
of every clue. He had also succumbed to the beauty 
of the place and was beginning to have a proprie- 
tary feeling toward this isolated emerald patch in 
an azure sea. There was an interval of a year or 
two while he laid his plans and made his arrange- 
ments with the Costa Rican government, and then 
he returned as a citizen of Costa Rica, Governor 
of the island, and owner of half of it. The terms 
of the bargain were that he should colonize Cocos, 
and that the Costa Ricans should keep communica- 
tions open and give him the sole concession for 


treasure-hunting. In 1894 he arrived with his wife, 
and six famihes of colonists, and they fell to work 
on shelters for themselves and their supplies, and 
to clearing ground for their plantations. Months 
passed, and at last the long-expected supply ship 
came, bringing seven more families and no supplies ! 
The people were landed and the ship departed, 
leaving Gissler with a diminishing store of food and 
the over lordship of thirteen families. The land that 
had been cleared and planted was not yet producing 
much, and like a wise captain, Gissler put his crew 
on rations at once. The dismayed colonists, who 
had expectantly emigrated to a dolce far niente 
Paradise, found themselves marooned where hard 
work and a food shortage made this tropical refuge 
painfully like their former dwelling-places. 

The ship did not return; no ship of any kind 
came, and discontent was rife. At last, seeing that 
starvation was perilously close and that they had 
been abandoned by the government, Gissler built 
an eighteen-foot boat in the little stream that 
empties into Wafer Bay, where the tiny settlement 

"With my wife's bed-sheets I made the sails," 
he told me, "and I went to the mainland for help," 
a voyage of more than three hundred miles in a 
very home-made craft. 

The help obtained, most of the colonists departed 
in haste, with a revised opinion of that Swiss fam- 
ily called Robinson, and it was not long before 
Captain and Mrs. Gissler, with a peon or two, 
were left in sole possession of Cocos. And so they 


remained for twenty years, with three brief inter- 
vals of hfe on the mainland. On one occasion 
Captain Gissler heard that a son-in-law of Keat- 
ing's was living in Boston, and there he journeyed 
for an interview. He found the man he sought in 
hospital and negotiated the purchase of all Keat- 
ing's papers, including the dictated account of his 
finding of the treasure. The information con- 
tained in them was too vague to be of use, but 
from certain comparisons with other clues, Gissler 
came to the conclusion that I have quoted concern- 
ing Keating's ignorance of the exact spot. 

The Gisslers were not left in utter solitude dur- 
ing those years. They had many visitors, all in- 
spired with hope of sudden wealth, all with more 
or less vague ideas of where to look for it, and some 
much nonplussed to find a man already in posses- 
sion and ready to assert his rights to the land that 
was his. 

In 1894 Keating's widow, now a woman of more 
than middle age and married and widowed a sec- 
ond time, came to Cocos with a Captain Hackett 
and a crew of sealers, on board the Aurora. She 
was looking for a spot described to her by Keating, 
a spot that Gissler had already found, where a large 
stone bore a carved "K" and an arrow pointing to 
a hollow tree. Hidden under the vines that covered 
the trunk of that tree, he had discovered a long iron 
rod, bent into a hook at one end, which was just 
long enough to reach the bottom of the hollow. But 
the cavity was empty. For days the sealers ex- 
plored the island, with growing disappointment 

Fig. 40. — Cocos Island Boobies, Seeking Shelter at Night in the Ship's Boats 

DURING a Severe Storm. 

* A 

Fig. 41. — Wafer Bay, Showing what is Left of One of Captain Gissler's Houses. 


and resentment. Then they accused the woman of 
withholding information, and searched her and all 
her belongings, without result. 

Sometimes expeditions were frequent; on at 
least one occasion there were two at Cocos simul- 
taneously, regarding each other with bitterness and 
exchanging accusations of unfair dealing, spying, 
and destruction of landmarks. Then months would 
go by without sight of a ship, and once two years 
elapsed without a visitor of any kind. During such 
intervals Captain Gissler and his wife spent busy, 
happy days, contentedly cultivating the bananas, 
coffee, limes, oranges, and various vegetables that 
by now were flourishing, fishing the streams, and 
taking long tramps over their domain, while they 
discussed the millions that lay somewhere within 
this narrow compass, and the possibility of finding 
them. Captain Gissler discovered the (means, 
which he subsequently patented, of making a very 
useful and substantial brush from the natural ma- 
terials at hand, and contrived a little machine to 
use in the process of their manufacture. Like all 
Robinson Crusoes, he put many articles to quaint 
and unexpected uses, as when he converted his 
bedsprings into rat-traps that wrought havoc 
among the all-too-fearless rodents. He built a 
tiny mill also, that utilized the power from the 
river at Wafer Bay, and planted coconut-palms 
to replace those so wantonly destroyed in centur- 
ies past. There were wild pigs to hunt, and from 
the veranda of their very comfortable house Mrs. 
Gissler used a trout-rod every day at high water, 


casting into the broad pool 'that rose over the 
sandy beach. 

Smoothly the days wheeled by in a procession of 
soft winds, hui'rying rain-clouds, moonless or silver 
nights, flowing into unregarded weeks and months 
of perpetual summer. The crash and suck of break- 
ers, the rattling song of the wind in the palm-trees, 
familiarly became a part of silence, and time was 
counted, not by dates, but by events, — the day the 
boat broke loose, the last big rain, or the evening 
that a light glimmered on the horizon. When 
treasure-hunters came, there was the news of the 
world to hear, and gifts to exchange, flour and 
sugar for fresh pork and coconuts, and always the 
game of twenty questions that the newcomers 
played in their attempts to extract useful points 
from the oldest resident of Treasure Island. 

Not all the visitors conducted themselves with 
courtesy. In 1896, while Gissler was absent in 
Costa Rica, renewing his arrangement with the 
government, a British warship dropped anchor at 
Cocos. She was commanded by a somewhat im- 
petuous Irishman, and I will follow the cautious 
example of another writer in calling him Captain 
Shrapnel. He had a roimantic soul but bad man- 
ners; he landed three hundred blue-jackets, in- 
formed Mrs. Gissler (who was alone except for 
two peons ) that she was not to leave the immediate 
vicinity of her house, and disregarding her pro- 
tests that this side of the island was her husband's 
property, turned his men loose in a three-day orgy 
of blasting and drilling in search of the loot of the 


Mary Dear. For this exploit he received a repri- 
mand from the realistic Admiralty, and Cocos was 
put out of bounds so far as the British Navy was 
concerned. The First Lord perhaps visualized the 
island as exerting an influence like Sindbad's Mag- 
netic Rock, and drawing in Her Majesty's ships 
one by one. 

Captain Shrapnel had left Cocos before Captain 
Gissler came back from the mainland, but the idea 
of buried treasure had a firm grip on his imagina- 
tion. Some years later he retui-ned, having ar- 
ranged the financing of a civilian expedition, and 
spent some busy weeks round Chatham Bay. He 
had received information from a man named Fitz- 
gerald, to whom Keating had confided certain di- 
rections on his death-bed. These bore such fanciful 
touches as the face of a cliff that would, when a 
spring was pressed, revolve and reveal the treasm-e. 
Whether it was Benito's crew or that of the Mary 
Dear that included such skilled stone-cutters, does 
not appear to have been explained. 

There was also Lord Fitzwilliam, a wealthy Brit- 
ish peer, who tried his hand at treasure-seeking. 
He stole a march on Captain Gissler by beginning 
blasting operations at Chatham Bay without the 
owner's permission, but a large section of cliff fell 
on his head and possibly persuaded him that the 
God of Buried Treasure fought on the side of the 

Another English expedition was financed by a 
Mr. and Mrs. Gray, who came on their yacht to 
this island whose soil has been so industriously 


tilled. Gissler battled more than once with the 
Costa Rican authorities, who granted concessions 
to other treasure-hunters, forgetful of, or disre- 
garding, his prior claims. People are always 
springing up with something that they assert is 
infallible information about the Cocos hoard. A 
stray newspaper item will call forth letters boast- 
ing of secret clues, obtained in mysterious ways. 
A few years ago the casual announcement that a 
professor from a mid-western university was go- 
ing to the South Seas in search of museum material 
brought him a letter from a man in Maine, offer- 
ing to obtain for him a chart of Cocos showing 
where he could find sixty million dollars. Those 
who speak of Cocos never stint themselves on mil- 
lions. There was even an attempt to find the treas- 
ure with a divining-rod, and this year the papers 
have told of the latest search which is to be con- 
ducted by an Englishman, "using the latest scien- 
tific inventions for finding buried treasure." If the 
reporters quote him accurately, (which is open to 
question) it seems doubtful if he will even find the 
island, as Cocos seems to be confused with Cocos- 
Keeling; he might look in the wrong ocean, since 
the location of the treasure island is given as "on the 
fringes of the sinister Sargasso Sea." At any ratie, 
the modern scientific developments will be inter- 

It was not until the Arcturus returned to New 
York from her six months' cruise that we discov- 
ered Captain Gissler. We had heard of him, of 
course, as has everyone who knows anything of the 


tale of Cocos, but he seemed the sort of legendary 
figure whom one could never hope actually to see. 
We had visited his settlement at Wafer Bay, and 
seen his house, whose crumbling piles have let the 
structure settle crazily to the ground, the remains 
of storehouses, the little iron stove sitting forlorn 
and rusty at the edge of the beach where it has 
been dragged by some visitor since he left. From 
his plantation, all but undiscoverable in the tangle 
of wild things that are springing to reclaim their 
ground, we picked quantities of limes, and carried 
them aboard in an empty box marked "DYNA- 

But it was months later that I climbed those 
creaking New York stairs, and knocked upon a 
door. It might have been the cover of a Conrad 
novel, for it opened on a figure that he would have 
understood and interpreted as no other could. 

A big man, straight and upstanding as a youth, 
with a white beard that covered his chest, bright 
blue eyes that could twinkle or glower, and the 
shipshape trimness that speaks of seafaring, opened 
to me. Four words — "I've come from Cocos" — 
were my magic formula, and in less than that many 
minutes we were in the midst of the story. Over an 
immaculate cloth we discussed delicious coffee, 
while the tale of treasure unfolded and the deep- 
toned mutter of the town seemed to change to the 
rush of the precipitate storm down the deep ravines 
of that island that has not yet given up its secret. 



I HAD made probably forty submersions in my 
diving helmet, and on my last ascent sat shiver- 
ingly on the dripping thwart and with water- 
wrinkled fingers scrawled damp notes on what I 
had seen. About this time I became obsessed 
with an unendurable impatience when I thought 
how relatively little of cohesive value I had ob- 
tained during my two score descents; what slight 
correlation I had observed among all the submarine 
activities. I tried to parallel that day's notes with 
corresponding items which a Martian, dropped into 
Fifth Avenue or Regent Street, might glean in a 
few minutes' time: 

Descended eighteen feet Landed on the edge of a 

and sat on a volcanic block as machine as large as a small 

large as an automobile, cov- ether-cycle, with glaring pos- 

ered with great round patches ters of strange, beautiful 

of orange and purple sponge; women and the place of the 

little fish swam curiously murder, plastered on its side; 

around me and dived into newsboys crowded around and 

grottos just out of reach. I swarms of people dashed into 

could not move about much holes in the ground, and 

for there were patches of poured out of places called 

long-spined sea-urchins every- Exits. There were spikes on 

where. A school of small the top of a park wall and 

ladyfish and wrasse came to Keep Off signs so I could 

a bit of crab-meat which I not walk about freely. Some 



held. Twice a great hiero- sparrows hopped up and ate 

glyphic fish poked his head crumbs at my feet. A curi- 

out of his crevice and rolled ous old man opened a window 

his eyes up at me and then across the street and peered 

a golden grouper swam slowly down at me once or twice, 

by, like a wandering ray of Two lovely ladies passed but 

the sun. A fish new to me was did not look at me. One of 

a large wrasse, green in color, them had on a most wonderful 

with two longitudinal black sea-greendressshotwithglints 

lines, broken up into elong- of wine color, which came and 

ated dashes. A tiger shark went in the murky sunlight, 

watched me suspiciously, and A little distance away a po- 

came so near that I stood liceman watched me intently, 

up and took hold of the lad- and then came toward me with 

der, although I knew I had such evident suspicion, that I 

really nothing of which to be rose slowly, yawned, stretched, 

afraid. and walked slowly away. 

Observations such as these, while having an ac- 
cumulative value when sufficiently numerous, give 
little or no idea of a complete picture, or well- 
rounded appreciation of any group or individual. 
My Martian might better have concentrated on 
some artisan or laborer, or any interesting person 
whose dress and actions and general life revealed 
some fundamental purpose, or method, or reason 
of existence — of reasonable relationship to all the 
host of objective phenomena which composed his 

I made up my mind that the next time I dived, 
I would bring back the image of a personality, 
the raison d'etre of some fish. That afternoon the 
first fish which caught my eye when I reached the 
bottom rung of the ladder was a yellow-tailed 
surgeonfish, and I seized upon him to point my 
moral and adorn my tale. It was a literal seizing, 
for I harpooned him forthwith and carried him 


up to the well in the boat. He was one of about 
seven or eight hundred which were so busy graz- 
ing that they paid no attention to the abstraction 
of their comrade. These blue cows, as we called 
them, are fish from a foot to eighteen inches, weigh- 
ing from one to four pounds, and are by far the 
most abundant of this medium-sized class. Their 
body is very deep and compressed, like most of 
the surgeonfishes, and their thick, pouting lips 
and protuberant eyes make them look absurdly like 
some stout people I see from time to time. 

Ninety years ago the French frigate Venus 
paid a visit to the Galapagos Islands and a speci- 
men of these yellow-tails was collected. To this 
specimen Valenciennes gave the name Piionurus 
laticlaviiis , but the exigencies of priority demanded 
a shift and today it is known as Xesurus laticlav- 
ius. It is an appropriate title and freely trans- 
lated means the Side-striped Scraping Tail. 
Using Tail as a proper name is excellent in this 
case, for of everything about the fish the tail is 
the part most conspicuous ( Plate VI ) . 

They are a uniform slaty -blue in color with two 
broad bands of black which extend downward 
across the body, one beginning on the neck and 
curving downward through the eye to the mouth, 
and the other just behind, starting at the front 
of the dorsal fin and ending at or below the pec- 
toral. The tail is bright greenish yellow, and a 
streak of this color reaches forward beyond the 
base, outlining, on the sides, the three poisonous, 
file-like spines. 


The great numbers of these fish show that they 
are successful wagers of life, and their conspicu- 
ous pattern and coloring combined with their 
absolute fearlessness indicate that they have some 
adequate defense against the creatures on every 
side, who would gladly devour them. The mouth 
is absurdly small, with wholly inadequate teeth, 
as far as biting is concerned, so as to that method 
of defense these submarine cows are on a par with 
the grazers of the land. They have no long, strong 
tail to lash, nor have they the static defense of the 
funny little box-fish, and their flesh is not at all 
poisonous, but delicious eating, as we proved more 
than once. So we must fall back upon the caudal 
armature as the crux of the matter. 

The surgeon or doctor fish show a beautifully 
graded series, from a form which has a long, curved 
lancet, sharp as a surgeon's scalpel, folded forward 
into a groove on the side of the tail, to others, at the 
opposite end of the scale, which have only a sha- 
green-like roughness of the skin. Xesurus lies not 
far from the lower end of this series, meaning, by 
lower, the more primitive condition. It seems 
probable that this whole group is descended from 
some form which had, as a defense, the entire body 
covered with bony plates, from the center of each 
of which arose a curved spine. In Xesurus these 
have degenerated until there is left only an irreg- 
ular group of ten to fifty small, black, dermal 
plates, scattered over the posterior third of the 
body. The most anterior are mere spots of dark 
pigment, then a minute, central, rounded nodule 


appears, shiny and black; this increases as we go 
farther back, and a good-sized basal plate de- 
velops ; the raised cutting edge becomes sharp and 
horny white and an anterior hook appears. At 
this point, however, there is an abrupt transition 
to the three, large, caudal plates, one in front of 
the other and separated by about their own width, 
each of which supports a hooked file. 

A complication, although not a negation of this 
theory, is that in the young Xesurus, less than an 
inch in length, the spiny ridges are said to be very 
low and serrate, and the irregular scattering of 
plates on the body is not discernible, develop- 
ing only later in the life of the individual. I have 
not seen a yellow-tail of this age, so am unable to 
confirm or deny this statement, or to tell what 
careful dissection of the skin might disclose. 

Much has been written about these "murderous, 
poisonous" spines, but as far as I know, no defin- 
ite experiments have been made as to the latter 
quality. In the first place the defense of our 
Xesurus is comparable rather to irregular, sharp- 
ridged, hooked files, than to spines, so that there is 
no possible chance of actually disabling any as- 
sailant large enough to kill and eat them. Even 
the force of numbers can be of little avail in any 
initial attack, and eight hundred Xesums crowd- 
ing about an attacking shark or barracuda could 
do little more direct harm than hamper his move- 
ments and partly smother him. 

I made four experiments to prove the venomous 
quality of the mucus about the spine or any liquid 


which might be operative in connection with it, and 
I obtained decidedly positive results. Other more 
elaborate experiments had to be abandoned during 
this expedition. I took a live Xesurus and armed 
with thick gloves I bent its tail slightly around 
and rasped the sharp files against the scales of 
three species of fish, one a much larger form, 
Seriola dorsalis, and two smaller than the surgeon- 
fish, a Poinacentnis arcifrons, and an Evoplites 
viridis, both of which live in the same locality as 
the Xeswrus. I had no large carnivorous fish, 
but it is unlikely that the results would have been 
different. In each case I had a number of other 
individuals of the same species, as controls, all 
living well in our aquariums. I watched the fish 
carefully but after the excitement, due to my tak- 
ing them from the tank, was over, I saw no symp- 
toms of discomfort, the abrasions themselves being 
quite negligible. The following morning all of 
the four subjects of the experiment were dead, their 
fellows, without exception, being still in perfect 
health. There was a slight discoloration of the flesh 
about the rasjDed wound, but no other lesions. 

In the case of a butterfly protected by nauseous 
juices, every inexperienced bird and lizard has 
probably to catch and taste for himself — the race 
of butterflies winning immunity at the sacrifice of 
one of their number. Turning to the life and 
death problem of Xemrus, from a general point of 
view there seem to be only three methods of corre- 
lating the various possibilities and factors. Cor- 
responding with the case of the butterfly and the 


lizard, we must (1) imagine every shark and bar- 
racuda, moray and grouper as taking toll for him- 
self, and furthermore that the action of the spines 
and poison is, in their case, only an exceedingly 
disagreeable and distasteful, not a fatal one; or 
(2) we must believe that every assailant is pois- 
oned and dies immediately, when the result would 
be simply, how soon all the sharks and groupers 
would be dead from eating surgeonfish; and (3) 
we may imagine an instinctive knowledge of the 
dangerous qualities of the yellow-tails on the part 
of sharks and others, induced by the gradual elimi- 
nation of xesuruphagus individuals. 

Once the tremendous interest of this problem 
became apparent, I was always on the lookout for 
some hint of a bout between these grazing cows 
and their enemies, but never did I see a menace 
or a defense. Their lives were lived calmly, with 
dignity, and wholly superior to the terrors and fears 
which marked the movements, the activities and the 
habits of most of the fish around them. Their 
cousins, the surgeonfish with long, sharp, wicked- 
looking spines were never as abundant or fearless 
as these, although one would say they had a much 
more effective means of defense. 

Another problem, quite as difficult of elucida- 
tion, has to do with the near relations of the sur- 
geons, the Chaetodonts or butterfly-fish, and 
Balistids or triggerfish. So intermixed are the 
characters of these three groups, — characters ex- 
ternal and internal, both of the body organs and 
of the skeleton, that systematists group the sur- 


geonfish sometimes with one, sometimes with the 
other. There seems, however, Httle doubt that the 
butterfly-fish and the surgeons are much closer. A 
matter of some fifty miUion years ago, in the 
Eocene, there swam a family of fishes — the 
Pygaeidae — in which these two groups were 
brought very close together indeed (Fig. 43) . 

We need here concern ourselves only with the 
character of the mode of defense, which is curi- 
ously different in the three living groups. In 
general, that of Xesurus sets it rather apart from 
the others, whose dependence is upon the anterior 
spines of the dorsal fin. 

In the butterfly-fish these are very long and 
strong, but not especially modified, and grade into 
the posterior, lesser spines of the dorsal. Both in 
the aquarium, where we kept black-fronted butter- 
fly-fish alive for several weeks, and near the bottom 
of the shallow shores where these exquisite fish 
lived their lives in pairs, I watched them fence. 
The simile which comes to mind is of a pair of full- 
grown tahr on a steep Himalayan mountain side. 
I have watched these splendid wild goats through 
long-range glasses, each shifting into most graceful 
poses as he feinted and made passes with his horns, 
either in play or in grim earnest, kneeling, swing- 
ing sideways, rearing lightly into the air with fore- 
legs bent under and horns playing like rapiers. 

This morning when I was diving, a large sea 
bass passed close to where a pair of butterfly-fish 
was feeding, and as it approached, one of the two 
went out to meet it. Every great spine gradually 


rose into place, like the nuchal fringe of any ambly- 
rhynchus, and as the annoying fish did not swerve 
aside, the dainty yellow and black Chaetodon went 
through a hundred graceful threatenings, rearing, 
ducking, dipping far to one side, and making swift 
passes at his opponent, bringing the whole body 
into play. Now and then it would jerk upward 
with all its force, with an unexpectedness which 
the other fish could only just manage to avoid, — 
and which, if it struck home, would work real 

In the triggerfish, the anterior dorsal spines 
have become quite as specialized a means of defense 
as the spine of the surgeon. Complete detachment 
has been brought about from the functional part 
of the back fin, the first spine being long, often 
serrated, and usually held in place by a second 
smaller one (Fig. 46). 

Leaving the family relations and the devious 
and obscure ways by which the yellow-tails have 
won and are holding their present enviable posi- 
tion, let us consider the details of their fitness for 
the everyday labor of life. Our name of cows 
was given because of their everlasting grazing, 
nibbling, nibbling, nibbling, at the plant and 
animal fodder which covers the rocks. The habit 
of going in such enormous schools, and crowding 
closely together made them a spectacular feature 
of every island where I dived, and their manoeuv- 
ers were astounding. Several hundred approached 
swimming slowly along, when, as if at a signal, 
all would stop, and if over a rather flat bottom. 

Xesurus laticlavius (VALENCIENNES) 

(One-half natural size) 




would up-end like ducks, and begin to graze. 
From a long, crowded mass of blue fish, they 
changed, as one, to an army of banners — a maze 
of fluttering, golden flags, all crowded close, all 
furling and unfurling, lighting up the flat spot 
where the surgeons fed, as a clump of goldenrod 
will catch and glorify a sun's beam, and toss it 
back to rejoice our eyes. 

As I have said, they were the most fearless of 
all the fish of these waters, and when a few moved 
over to look at me one by one, all the rest shifted, 
and the first had to move on, if only to make room 
for the scores pressing up. Once when I was sur- 
rounded by a herd of yellow-tails I chose a com- 
fortable seat, and deliberately studied their 
architecture with appraising eyes. Every line and 
profile and character seemed a perfect adaptation 
to their feeding habits. The high, compressed 
body, almost surrounded by fins, with an extremely 
mobile, caudal peduncle, allowing the tail to turn 
at right angles to the body, all helped to sustain, 
or to shift the fish quickly against the surge or to 
hold it steady while the grazing went on. I never 
realized so fully the stiff, immobile quality of the 
whole body of the fish. It could roll its eyes, 
twist its tail and bend very slightly, but the teeth 
and jaws were without other than vertical move- 
ment. The entire lack of a neck made it necessary 
for every fin to help with each bite, pressing and 
holding it firmly while the teeth scraped and closed, 
then drawing back slightly, while the food was 
ingested and swallowed, immediately shifting 


slightly to one side or below, and ahead again for 
another scrape. I was able to analyze these 
successive movements, but in reality they followed 
one another with the swiftness and ease, the pre- 
cision and correlation, of a man's steps. 

The mouth was strongly protuberant, the jaws 
being wholly beyond the normal curve of the fore- 
head, nostril and chin. The lips were soft and 
attached so far back that they could be drawn out 
of the way of any other part of the face or mouth. 
The teeth were perfectly adapted to their work — 
remarkable little scraping machines which cleaned 
the growths from the rocks as a hoe cuts the weeds 
from sod. They were the strangest-looking teeth 
in the world and at first glance recalled a double 
row of the tiny ivory hands on long sticks which the 
Japanese carve so exquisitely. Under the care- 
ful scrutiny of a lens, another absurd, and this 
time a perfect, simile forced itself upon me. There 
were nine on each side, both above and below, 
thirty-six in all, and to the smallest curve they were 
not like hands, but feet — thirty-six little soles, with 
five, well-graduated toes on the tip of each, a grace- 
ful in-curving arch, and a delicate heel. The teeth 
were inserted at a strong outward angle, and over- 
lapped on each side so that the functioning top of 
each tooth was limited to the great, and to the next 
two toes. For a time it was difficult to be abstractly 
dentistic in my contemplation, and not laugh at 
the thought which the eye compelled, of eighteen 
little men just disappearing down the throat of 
every Xesurus. The rounded tips were evidently 


ideal scraping organs, and my comparison with a 
hoe had better be replaced with that of a rake. 

The nostrils were far out of the way near the 
eyes, for they can be of slight use, there being little 
or no selection of the scraped-off nourishment, and 
if placed nearer, they would only become clogged 
with debris in suspension. The eyes were of good 
size and very protuberant, standing well out above 
the surrounding, rather concave head area. Their 
rotating power was unusually great. With a 
normal divergence of 8° forward, and 12° down, 
which alone focussed them well toward the ap- 
proaching rocks, they could be rotated forward and 
downward through an angle of 42°. Not only was 
the elevation and direction of the eye thus a special- 
ization for the direct observation of the feeding 
grounds, but the cheeks were hollow, and the 
elongated bridge of the face deeply concave, thus 
affording an unobstructed field of vision. This 
was another powerful argument for the absence 
or relative lack of enemies, that all this complicated 
architecture was for clear vision ahead, not behind, 
— Xesurus was in no sense a pursued one. 

The pattern and coloration were not protective, 
and if they were, the enormous schools would 
render any concealing coloration of no avail. The 
pale blue grey, with the two broad, black bands, 
the large, silvery iris and whitish lips, and above 
all the brilliant yellow tail, and yellow and black- 
banded line of the caudal plates, rendered it an 
object easy of detection among the variously 
colored rocks on which it fed. I should rather 


classify the tail as a recognition mark, a feature 
so characteristic of gregarious animals, and the 
lateral parti-colored band may, as likely as not, 
have served the purpose of a warning signal to 
any who may have instinctive appreciation of the 
danger which it advertised. 

The gill openings were enormously elongated, 
perhaps as an aid in permitting a strong in-and- 
out-rush of water, when this was roiled by floating 
detritus from the continual gnawing. Just back 
of the gills were the pectoral fins, long, with a hint 
of falcateness, and properly strong to govern the 
myriad adjustments of every day's activity. When 
balanced close alongside a rock, the pectorals were 
used alternately to fend off with, in addition to 
their more usual functions of balancing and pro- 
pulsion. They are wonderfully strutted, hinged 
on an oblique base, which constitutes the cross-bar 
of the A formed by the clavicle and post-clavicle. 
The superficial muscle which leads straight for- 
ward from this fin, controls the posterior half of 
the pectoral rays, and, when it contracts, curves 
them around and out, until they form a most sym- 
metrical, forwardly directed trough or cup — which 
in its function of a brake or backing organ, is of 
more importance than the backward push of a 
swifter fish. 

Below the pectoral and slightly to the rear, 
the ventral fins arose, close together, on the profile 
of the chest. They were fronted by very stout, 
rough spines, and the chest directly in front was 
quite broad and flat. A number of times I saw 


individuals propping themselves for a moment on 
this part of the body, the ventral spines acting as 
two legs of a tripod, or again pushing hard against 
the rock when the fish slid over a sharp angle. 

Whether from disuse or lack of incentive, these 
fish seldom exhibit any burst of speed, although 
the dorsal and anal fins were long and deep and the 
tail and the pectorals large and powerful. When 
moving along or feeding, I never saw an unusually 
swift movement, and even when I was harpoon- 
ing them, and now and then thoroughly alarming 
them, they never showed more than an ability to 
avoid an awkward thrust of the grains. I could 
easily spear a half dozen of them to any one of an- 
other species, and not because of their abundance. 

Another argument in favor of the lack of ene- 
mies was the very considerable variation existing 
among Xesurus. In a large school I saw some 
which were exceedingly deep in the body, and 
others a full third lower; the lateral line might 
be present or absent, and comparison of pectoral 
fins of different fish showed very marked varia- 
tions in size and outline. Fish which live very 
strenuous lives, whose numbers are kept down to 
low limits and which are beset by numerous ene- 
mies, exhibit little variation from the normal, — 
they keep to the narrow, sharp line of sheer ex- 
istence and every character tells — any latitude in 
one or another direction might well wipe out the 
whole race. 

Again and again they came to the crab meat, 
but I never saw them nibble at it. The attraction 


seemed only that of curiosity — they were like city 
strangers looking through the window of an auto- 
mat. They fed at all hours, and twice at night 
by the aid of a water-glass and my electric flash, 
in shallow water, I have seen a small school scrap- 
ing away as though it were day or at least moon- 
light. In this noncurtailment of meal hours they 
differed widely from carnivorous fish and re- 
sembled their dietetic relatives — sheep and cows. 

Once, and once only, I took one on a small 
hook, baited with crab meat, so I suspected they 
were not wholly vegetarian in their scrapings. I 
sought confirmation in the examination of a num- 
ber of stomachs. About sixty per cent contained 
solid masses of green, succulent algae, and in the 
others there were in addition bits of rock and 
shell, and remains of crabs, shrimps, sea-urchins, 
worms, and all the odds and ends of animal life 
which find shelter in the short seaweed fur of the 
rock surfaces. 

The viability of the yellow-tails is very high, 
and I can recall no instance of a harpooned fish 
failing to live and thrive in our aquariums when re- 
stored to running water immediately after cap- 
ture. None, however, long survived the tainted 
waters of Panama and Colon, combined with the 
enforced lack of running salt water during the 
passage through the canal. 



When I began to be wonted to the long, wind- 
ing kingdom of my shallow, underwater world, 
its strange landscapes and stranger inhabitants 
slowly penetrated the first fine frenzy of inarti- 
culate emotion, to more specific appreciation. And 
the very first evidence of this was humorous — for 
I began to see close resemblances between the vil- 
lagers of the deep, and dear friends of mine. And 
this is not to be read with a roar of laughter, and 
an all-inclusive pseudo-witticism of queer-looking 
people and "poor fish." That is far from what 
I mean ; it was in no way a question of special fea- 
tures or personal appearance, but often in quite 
indefinable qualities. The way a grouper would 
come over a mound of coral, or a moorish idol peer 
up at me, the nervous flick of a small wrasse per- 
son, brought often to mind a gait, a glance or 
a trick of the hand of someone. These casual 
chuckles undermined the distraction of alienness, 
and at once I felt more at home. This was em- 
phasized when I dived again and again in one 
spot, day after day, and saw, not only the same 



lanes and streets and mountains, but the identical 
fish themselves. The little old lady in Paris, 
garbed in black, who used to pass me on her way 
to market every day had always the same tear in 
her veil, and now, the small, fussy demoiselle fish- 
let which invariably scurried past when I had 
taken my seat, was known to me among all her 
neighbors by the frayed spot on the side of her 

I succeeded in merging myself with the life of 
fishes, aided by the lack of fear or even respect 
with which they greeted my entrance into their 
world. But when I began to think in words I 
found that just as I had to have a stream of at- 
mosphere flowing down to me, bringing with it all 
the little motes and beams belonging wholly to the 
upper world, so when my mind began resolving 
what my senses sent to it, into outflowing words, 
these were ever burdened with dry-earthly similes 
and metaphors. 

To an eye above the water my new kingdom's 
limits, within the confines of these Cocos and Gal- 
apagos Islands, would appear like a multitude of 
thinnest of rings scattered about just beneath 
the surface. For this is an egocentric kingdom as 
far as I am concerned, and its lower boundaries 
are those of my pitiful extremes of penetration. 
As for the upper frontiers, I admit neither rock 
nor weed ever bathed by the air even at lowest 
tide. All between I have made mine by right of 
imagination and a few score of timid entrances 
and creepings about. Yet always, while among 


my subjects, I must abide in a glass house, and 
like a humble water beetle enclose within it a bub- 
ble of air. My impatience never relaxed the de- 
sire to fling the glass windows wide open, and smell 
and taste and hear this new world — to hear, for 
there must be some rippling vibration of sound or 
other waves from so many thousands who forever 
mumble at one another with their lips. 

One of my favorite neighborhoods of observa- 
tion was a marvellous shire on the bottom of the 
east side of Chatham Bay, Cocos. Just as Cocos 
itself at this season was more often than not com- 
pletely cloaked in a solid rain cloud, so my capitol 
was forever hidden from prying eyes by a liquid 
sheet of emerald green. 

Before describing an earthly city, we always 
speak of its environment and background. What 
I saw as I looked around above water just before 
I dived was a sort of upground, I know of no other 
word — the beautiful, great bay with the Arctwrus 
riding at anchor, while high overhead rose the 
steep mountain slopes of Cocos, covered with 
dense, green jungles — tall palms and graceful, 
lace-like tree-ferns standing out above all the rest, 
while fig trees clung to the steepest slopes, drop- 
ping down perfect portieres of dangling rootlets. 
In and out, like a warp of silver threads among 
the green foliage, shone the waterfalls — the glory 
of all this island loveliness, dozens of them, slip- 
ping down from rock to rock, or sliding gently 
over hundred-foot stretches of emerald moss. 

But now the helmet is poised on high, dropped 


over my head, — I am eclipsed, and change planets. 

I sink down, down, down, and finally let go the 
last rmig, drop quietly and deliberately on my 
feet, and look aromid at a city of giant mushrooms. 
A huge dome in front of me offered good climb- 
ing, so I kicked my feet and body free, and drifted 
to the top with slight tugs of my hands, gravita- 
tion all but negatived. From the top I looked 
down upon a marvellous boulevard of the whitest 
sand, bordered by edifices of coral beyond all ade- 
quate adjective and exclamation. In the middle 
distance I saw the palace of the Dalai Lama at 
Llhasa with its majestic down-dropping lines, be- 
yond it the corals had wrought a fairy replica of 
the temple of the Tirthankers at Benares. Then 
a cloud of pagodas filled the end of the sandy vis- 
ta, silhouetted against the blue at which I can 
never cease marvelling whenever I think of this 
water world, — a pale cerulean, oxidized now and 
then with the glimmering through of some still 
more distant monument. Invariably the archi- 
tecture of the East was brought to mind, not the 
semi-plagiarized structures of most of our western 
efforts, but light, uplifted pagoda roofs, curving 
domes, and stalagmite minarets, together with the 
scroll-work which is lace-like but never ginger- 

Through many days of watching, sometimes 
rising to the surface grey with the soaking of 
water, or chilled and chattering, but always re- 
luctantly — I studied the fishes, the aborigines of 
these places, and I found them astonishingly like 


humans in all their more important habits and 
concerns of life. 

Looking over my finny subjects in general I 
found they were divided into distinct gens or 
castes, and these in turn separated more or less 
naturally into guilds and professions. From my 
seat at one end of the mushroom city I could pick 
them out — sometimes several at a glance. Over 
the coral, above its mounds and branches and laby- 
rinths, there floated the castes of Free Nomads 
and Grazers. Shall I call them figuratively the 
Zeppelins and the airplanes of the sea, or, with 
rather more exactness of applicability, the eagles 
and vultures, the parrots and woodpeckers? Or, 
best of all, let us credit them exactly for what they 

As Nomads I should consider those fish people 
who usually hunt singly, but sometimes in small 
packs, who have no homes, no coral haunts or rocky 
retreats, but who live, feed, fight, mate, sleep and 
die in mid-water. The sharks are these, but not 
the rays and skates, which belong to the same 
natural order, but which have spread into various 
directions and appropriated an interesting and 
profitable field for themselves. Indeed, in the case 
of the sharks, what has not been usurped by them 
has been given them as endowment by legend and 
fancy. We humans adore to build up a scarecrow 
of straw and paper around things admirable in 
themselves, inflate it with hot air, then look at it, 
scream, and run terrified away. Cries of Snake! 
Evolution! Shark! are sufficient to throw certain 


panicky, timid souls into a horrified terror. All of 
these fears have about the same basis of truth; out 
of seventeen hundred species of serpents living 
on the earth today, less than one third are dan- 
gerous; undoubtedly there have been a few men 
who, at the same time, have been very bad men and 
believers in evolution, and there is no doubt that, 
since history has been recorded, a few authentic 
cases of the attacks of sharks upon men have oc- 
curred. To condemn sharks in general is like 
never taking a taxicab because men have been run 
over and killed by taxicabs. 

I have written elsewhere of individual sharks 
I have met, but here we are concerned only with 
their relations to the scheme of the shallow water 
world. At Cocos, there weaved in and out above 
me, occasionally coming down and curving around 
the great coral pagodas, sharks of three species. 
The white-finned and the island sharks were wan- 
dering nomads of clearly vulturine habits, arousing 
no fear among smaller or weaker fish, but always 
on the lookout for a crippled or dead creature. 
They were the dominant scavengers, and after we 
had used dynamite, the sharks under water and the 
frigatebirds above, cleared away every overlooked 
specimen, no matter how small. 

These two kinds of grey sharks were four to 
nine feet in length, and they swam slowly, with 
wide lateral undulations of the head and body, 
keeping rather a dull outlook from their yellow 
eyes. The ability of the human imagination to see 
what it thinks it ought to see is astonishing. As long 


as my book-and-legend-induced fear of sharks 
dominated, I saw them as sinuous, crafty, sinister, 
cruel-mouthed, sneering. When I came at last to 
know them for harmless scavengers, all these 
characteristics slipped away, and I saw them as 
they really are, — indolent, awkward, chinless 
cowards. They are to a barracuda as a vulture to 
an eagle; a ladyfish has a thousand times less 
weight and double their courage. 

As regards tiger sharks, which, by the way, at- 
tain a length of thirty feet in my kingdom, I re- 
serve judgment. I have had medium-sized ones 
swim up to within six feet and show signs of noth- 
ing more alarming than curiosity, but I have also 
seen a tiger shark snap up a baby sea-lion close to 
a rookery of big males, as though it were a minnow, 
and I have observed and shared the respect with 
which fish sometimes greet his appearance. I 
should catalogue him as an uncertain character — 
safe enough usually, but to be interviewed with the 
iron ladder between us. 

Groupers are another tribe of Nomads, one with- 
out any sense of humor, or the sophisticated casual- 
ness which seems to me to characterize most sharks. 
Groupers take life in grim earnest and while they 
lack the pessimistic viciousness of barracudas and 
morays, yet they are persons of uncertain temper. 
Lack of size alone keeps them from being as much 
feared as tiger sharks. I was never wholly com- 
fortable when these great brutes came up in their 
loose schools of six or eight, swimming so close 
that I often kicked at them or stabbed with my bar- 


poon. Their reaction, after avoiding the stroke, 
was instantly to return and follow the foot or the 
instrument in a most disconcerting way. No shark 
was quicker, nor by a long way as effective in at- 
tack upon any fish in trouble or disabled, as these 
evil-mouthed fish. 

Once I saw a giant ray or devilfish while I was 
perched on a coral throne. Dense schools of small 
fish passing overhead dimfmed the light as would a 
cloud, but this huge creature actually caused a mo- 
mentary eclipse as he flew close above me, so close 
indeed and so far beneath the top of the water that 
my companions did not notice him. My delight at 
seeing his enormous enamel-white expanse over- 
head was temporarily distracted by one of his wing 
tips catching in my hose of life, but it slipped 
around with no more than a sudden twitch to the 
helmet. I entered him in my census file as Nomad, 
unique so near shore, harmless, curious, playful, 
feeding on nothing more exciting than the minute 
shrimps and infant crabs which paddle about near 
the surface, especially at night. All this I had 
gleaned from others of the kind which I had met 
farther out in the bay and elsewhere and always 
close to the top of the water. Devilfish he may be 
in appearance because of his horns and tail and the 
color of his cloak, but he has a gentle soul. This 
giant must have a courtship of sorts and a consort- 
ing for a time with a mate, but I have found him 
the most solitary of behemoths. 

The last member of the tribe of True Nomads, 
and far and away my favorite, is a splendid blue 


carangid, two feet or more in length and swifter 
than any other. In clans of ten or a dozen they 
come out of the translucent blue, and, as they ap- 
proach, slip off the azure veil which dims them and 
flash out pure silver, for, from my position, I see 
them with the eye of a true dweller in these deeps. 
They are built with the finest of stream lines, nar- 
row peduncle aft, wide crescentic tail, long, falcate 
pectorals. Around and around me they go, arous- 
ing keen interest and admiration, where the 
groupers induced suspicion and distrust. I felt 
that these were fish of caste, fighting, if they must, 
in the open. Their relation with other smaller fish 
was a mystery or else to be explained by sleight-of- 
fin legerdemain. None paid any more attention to 
them than to the grazers. Yet these were of a far 
other sort. Three separate times I saw one of 
these carangids move out of the circle they were 
drawing around me, with a twist and a flash as 
quick as light, and each time a small wrasse swim- 
ming near, absolutely disappeared as if suddenly 
dissolved. It reminded me of the frog-and-his- 
tongue trick, — a frog facing a fly a considerable 
distance away, and suddenly the fly is gone. You 
are sure it went down the frog's throat, but no 
human eye is quick enough to see all the details. 
And so the flash of silver caranx seems not to 
approach or touch the little wrasse — and yet the 
wrasse is no longer interested in food or life, and 
the caranx is back in place, swimming quietly, 
breathing gently. 

These fish would take no bait and they avoided 


the repeated stabs of my grains with less than effort, 
and only when we took advantage of them with a 
stick of dynamite was I able to name them for 
certain, Carancc melampygiis, and to study their 
marvellous body engine at leisure. I learned as 
much as any instantaneous cross-section could pro- 
vide, of which one fact only is of interest here. 
A female with ripe ovaries was about to deposit 
one hundred and fourteen thousand eggs. This 
showed clearly that no matter how well able the 
full-grown fish were to take care of themselves, 
yet the young fry must be threatened with a host 
of dangers to render such a number of eggs nec- 
essary to maintain the species. To return in this 
connection, for a moment, to another Nomad, it 
is thoughtful to consider the devilfish which pro- 
duces but a single young, weighing nearly thirty 
pounds at birth. On this very trip I examined 
such a lusty infant and could see no means of 
defense by which it could escape the attack of a 
barracuda or tiger shark. I should like sometime 
to take a year off and do nothing but study the 
life history of the devilfish. 

Once when a boy I was studying the common 
bird life of a small city park. I looked up one 
day and saw a brilliant parrot perched in a tree 
overhead. The thrill which came to me then was 
repeated when, almost on the last day of my div- 
ing at Cocos I saw a beautiful flyingfish swimming 
over my mushroom coral city. I had hardly regis- 
tered it when the reason for its presence in this 
unlikely spot was explained. A long, narrow fish 


came up behind, slowly at first, then with a rush — 
a needle-toothed garfish. The flyingfish gave two 
or three convulsive surges forward and then I saw 
what I had never expected to — one of these fish rise 
from the water above me and disappear into the 
air. Somehow this made me feel more like one of 
the actual inhabitants of this underworld than 
anything which had occurred heretofore — I was 
seeing things from a real fish-eye-view. 

The gar missed his prey and I was interested to 
see that he became utterly confused, and made one 
short rush after the other in various directions. I 
saw the flyingfish drop into the water only twenty 
feet away, coming into \aew with a flop. The 
gar showed no signs of having sensed this, and the 
last I saw of the two, the pursued was vanishing 
into the blue distance while the gar turned back 
the way it had come. 

The last Nomad I can recall really does not 
belong in this class, since it has a home, although 
the strangest in the world. When the devilfish 
swam over, I saw very distinctly, two sucking fish 
glued to its under side. These are the remarkable 
attendants which spend their whole Hfe being car- 
ried about by their host, whether shark, devilfish or 
turtle, so if not comparable to the nomadic Arab, 
they can at least qualify as the representative of 
the Arab's flea. 

I stood up on the top of the great coral mass, 
which I might, if I were that kind of person, have 
named "Nomad Belle Vue," and shpped, or 
rather drifted half-way to the bottom. Then with 


a mighty spring I passed slowly but quite across 
the sandy boulevard and beyond to another city, 
this one of cones, inverted cones at that, like enor- 
mous anemones. The swell was increasing and far 
off at one side I could see the iron ladder frantically 
jerking up and down. Hardly had I curled my- 
self in between three small cones, with a branching 
tangle of animal blossoms in front, when there 
occurred that dimming of the light with which I 
had become so familiar. Leisurely there passed 
overhead three hundred — three hundred and 
twenty-six to be exact — of the big, black surgeon- 
fish. They wandered over to the great brown 
coral which I had left, and spread over it like a 
herd of sheep across a meadow. Nibble, nibble, 
nibble, as they climbed slowly, drawing the black 
blanket of their numbers over every inch of the 
surface. A strong surge swept them a yard away, 
held them suspended for a moment, and then re- 
turned them each to his place on the coral. 

To my coarse and untutored vision each retreat- 
ing surge seemed to restore things exactly as they 
were, and yet, if I could see all the hidden activ- 
ities of my kingdom, I would know that every 
swell, each minute and each hour, must cause a 
thousand thousand tragedies — exposing to hos- 
tile, alien eyes hidden weakness and camouflaged 
defenselessness. Not a moment passes but some- 
where a color secret is exploded, an inedible bluff 
called, for even a fish's memory can span ten feet 
and two seconds, with hunger as the stimulus. 

As the buffalo herons and cowbirds and black 

Fig. 42. — Ruth Rose Diving at Cocos in Fifteen Feet 

OF Water. 

Fig. 43. — Black-barked Surgeonfish, Teuthis triostegus (Linne) 






















O W 

< O 



















cuckoos gather about grazing cattle, to snatch the 
disturbed grasshoppers, so, on the outskirts of the 
surgeon herd, small wrasse persons and others 
frisked about, darting in to seize some crab or 
shrimp which the scraping teeth of the grazing fish 
had dispossessed. Again, as in grazing herds of 
antelope in Africa, a zebra will now and then be 
found, so here, mingled in the depths of the three 
hundred odd, I saw several white-striped angel- 
fish and as many of my old friends, the yellow- 
tailed Xesurus (Fig. 45). 

Fish such as these I take as types of my Grazers 
— Coral Grazers in particular. My study of the 
yellow-tailed surgeons applies, with slight changes, 
to the others — fish which swim slowly about, often 
in large schools, usually at a low level near the coral 
or rocks. They are apparently well protected by 
the poisonous spines on various parts of the body 
and show no fear of other fish. They may be 
somber in general body color but they always have 
some conspicuous mark or patch of color, such as 
the yellow tail of Xesurus, the white tail of aliala, 
and the black bands in another surgeon ( Fig. 43 ) . 
But however they dift'er in size, color or sociability, 
they have one thing in common — their teeth. 

One glance at the mouth of a lion, a horse or a 
rabbit tells us much of their ways of life and their 
food, and no one could ever mistake the teeth of 
a surgeonfish for those of a shark or even a snap- 
per. My Grazers, judged by their teeth, fell into 
four general types, the Hands-and-feet, the Chisel 
or Horse-toothed, the Stockades and the Parrots. 


The first I have described in the chapter on 
Xesu7'us, the six and thirty little soles sticking up 
all on edge, and in Hepatus, another surgeon, the 
teeth are absurdly like hands, palms out, with the 
fingers held close together. This fish is content 
with alg£e, as I have never found a crab or other 
marine animal in its food. The triggerfish are 
armed with the dental chisels, Melichthys, the 
beautiful black trigger, and the solitary, and 
preternaturally solemn Pachygnathus. The front 
view of these fish presents a horrible horse-like 
appearance, a horse whose teeth are too promi- 
nent and too many. 

The Stockades are a strange group, with teeth 
which far excel any instrument of human manu- 
facture. Details are for the ichthyologist, but con- 
sider for a moment the moorish idol and the angel- 
fish. The astonishingly beautiful white-striped 
angelfish has a golid outside row of stockade teeth, 
growing out of a thick, bony jaw. Back of the 
front row are four or five layers of teeth, appear- 
ing above the jaw in short lengths, looking, on 
the whole, like a strip of ticker tape or pianola 
music. But Pomacanthus %07iipectus, or more trip- 
pingly on the tongue, orange-finned butterfly-fish, 
has the most bizarre mouthful of any of my 
Grazers. At first sight it seems to have a few, 
large, curiously ribbed teeth, but on closer inspec- 
tion these are seen to be composed of many, fine, 
slender individual teeth, like glass splinters. 

With all the fish Grazers the price of such defi- 
nite, abundant, non-motile food seems to be a stiff- 


ening of the whole body, activity being superflu- 
ous; progression being by fins in place of any un- 
dulation, a rolling of the eyes in place of a twist- 
able neck and body. But one does not need to go 
in enormous schools, hordes or herds, such as sur- 
geons, locusts and antelope affect. The idols keep 
in pairs, and they swim and bank, turn and feed 
with such unanimity that they might well be a 
single moorish idol and its shadow. They have an 
outrageous pout which reminds me of a lawyer 
friend, and which must be most useful in a Grazer, 
since one can graze and yet see upon what one is 
grazing without shoving back from the table (Fig. 
22 ) . A word as to the Parrot-mouths, which char- 
acter indeed, has given their name to some of them. 
Here, as for example in the puffers, the teeth are 
wholly consolidated to form great cutting plates, 
usually divided in a hare-lip fashion into four. In 
other fish, as the stonewall perch, as the Japanese 
call it, the components of the beak are faintly vis- 
ible, although solidly ossified, the tips showing as 
rounded, flat nodules. 

When I see what a considerable proportion of my 
subjects keep life within their bodies by scraping 
rocks and coral clear of the encrusting alg^e, 
worms, shells, crabs and other growths and organ- 
isms, I marvel that the exposed surfaces are not 
all as close-cropped as a sheep meadow. But the 
clipping seems to hasten renewed growth, and as 
there is never any trouble about irrigation, there is 
a never-ending supply. Again we must remember 
that, strictly speaking, all the fish of this group 


also belong to the tribe of Nomads, in the sense that 
their home is where they are and where food 
abounds. From my studies of the Grazers it seems 
to me that they must sleep in some manner in- 
explicable to us, coniining to some one part of the 
brain the automatic, temporary regulation of eyes 
and fins. In an aquarium I have never been able 
to surprise one of the Grazers off guard. The one 
exception xo all this is the triggerfish, and these 
are chronic loungers and dozers. They lean over 
anything handy or slant back against a corner at 
night and are not easily disturbed, although the 
lidless, staring eyes are never veiled. 

As with any community, the more I studied my 
kingdom the more complex became the various 
sects and guilds. I could keep on for many pages 
without beginning to exhaust even my superficial 
knowledge of the Grazers, for turning to the great 
patches of sand without my mushroom city, I per- 
ceived castes of sand Shovellers and Sifters, to say 
nothing of sand Waiters who disguised their deadly 
aggressiveness beneath a thin covering of this white 
dust, — dust which I could never think of as wet, 
because as usual there was nothing dry for com- 
parison. To the more gentle sand folk belonged 
the shovel-nosed rays, the mullets with their deli- 
cate chin feelers like the tapping stick of a blind 
man, and Polynemis of the long thread fingers, 
forever stretching out for knowledge of suste- 
nance. These too, were sand colored, but probably 
rather as a protective cloak against the peering 
eyes of enemy Nomads. 


The great backbone of my population, the host 
of "common peepul" was what I called Percolators 
— although some of them were aristocrats and 
many did not percolate. As a whole, however, 
they lived their lives in and out of the coral and 
rocks, never becoming surface lovers, nor settling 
down in any special crevice. Still they were local 
optioners in point of residence, and many a time 
I recognized the same individuals in the same coral 
palace grounds. In taste they were omnivorous 
or carnivorous, seldom wholly vegetarians and 
never strictly grazers. Like New Yorkers at 
lunch hour they were victims of idle curiosity, and 
I shall never see a throng watching with breathless 
interest the working excavators, or the rhythmical 
riveters on some new building, without remembering 
the crowd of small Percolators who always rushed 
toward me when I first submerged, swimming rap- 
idly with a My-Word !-see-what's-here expression. 

My percolators belonged to many families and 
systematic gens, and their diversity of habits within 
the limits I have set would fill volumes. The most 
abundant was probably the beautiful blue-lined 
golden snapper, Evoplites viridis, which is one of 
the most beautiful of fish. This may be taken as 
typical of the group. In a dozen stomachs I found 
that crabs and very tiny fish each occurred five 
times, shrimp thrice and snails once. They have 
little social instinct and while a score or two would 
gather quickly at hint of a repast, yet they were 
never closely associated in schools. 

They ran or swam with many of the other 


medium and small Percolators, the most brilliant 
being wrasse, with unbelievably harsh and gorgeous 
pigments and patterns. Thallasoma, or the 
pousse-cafe fish, with its purple and yellow and 
green stripes, always formed a large percentage 
of the crowd of fish whirling about my hand and 
helmet when I held a bit of crab as lure. Derma- 
tolepis, the big, high-backed, golden-spotted sea 
bass, must be considered as giant Percolators, for 
they were always trying to push through crevices 
and archways too small for them. They were ugly- 
natured as well as bold, and needed only a little 
more courage to attempt to ham-string me when 
I was not looking. As they became angry or over- 
excited they showed their spleen or nervousness 
by changing color, thinking nothing of shifting 
from white to black, always with the yellow gold 
spangles shining clear. At the other end of perco- 
late size were the tiny Runulus, midget eelet 
wrasses, who eddied in and out between my fingers 
without my ever succeeding even in touching them. 
When I tell that within a few minutes after tak- 
ing my coral throne, I often had five hundred Per- 
colators swimming close about me, the vast num- 
bers of my subjects (if not their loyalty other than 
gastronomic) may be realized. 

Two more castes remain, the Squatters and the 
Villagers — ^my favorites of all my fish. They were 
of greatest interest when compared with one an- 
other, for while the latter had individual crevice 
homes, yet they were built along normal fish lines, 
while the Squatters, although they might spend 


only a short time in any given spot, were all physi- 
cally adapted and modified for life in and over 
and around rocks and coral. 

The most abundant of the Villagers were the 
brown Pomacentrids or demoiselles. They were 
everywhere and yet each one had its own little 
domicile — a hole, or crack or crevice where it re- 
sided and which it defended against all comers. A 
sight of which I never wearied was to see a big 
Xesurus^ if not indeed a grouper itself, come barg- 
ing slowly along, when suddenly out from the very 
coral rock in its path there would shoot a diminutive 
demoiselle, fins erect in righteous wrath, and ac- 
tually rush at the offending giant. The gesture of 
home defense was so real that the attacked one, 
if a small fish, usually turned tail and fled at once, 
or, if the dignity of size had to be maintained, the 
surgeon or grouper would veer slightly to one side, 
as if recognizing and acknowledging the excellent 
motive of irritation, but saving its own face. 

All my life I have had a weakness for gobies and 
blennies, and now that I was able to sit upon a 
rock and have them come out like elves and gnomes, 
and skip and slither about at my elbow, my fond- 
ness grew to real affection. Of all fish these give 
the impression of being less completely bound up 
in fishiness. I am sure that they would make 
splendid pets, and would do all they could to cross 
the border line which divides the inhabitants of the 
realm of water from us elemental mongrels. We, 
lords of creation indeed! who must needs breathe 
one thin medium, support ourselves upon a thicker 


one, and yet, although our body is two-thirds of 
another, perish miserably when immersed in it. 

I have given above a few stray notes of a minute 
fraction of my shallow water kingdom, observed in 
a succession of fleeting moments of time. Its chief 
value is to show our ignorance of this cosmos — 
and to stimulate at least my own desire to go and 
learn more. 

When I reached Cocos Island I had with me a 
list of thirty-eight species of shore fishes which had 
been collected twenty-six years ago. Of these I 
was able to secure and identify twenty-three, in 
addition to fifty-seven others which had never be- 
fore been recorded from this lonely island. Dur- 
ing my stay therefore I observed eighty species, 
making a total of ninety-five altogether. I have 
notes on at least a third again as many which were 
too wary for me, although some of them would 
swim up to the very glass of my helmet and gaze 
impudently in at me, and which were quite new 
species. The details of this fauna, their names and 
relationships, colors and food belong elsewhere, but 
I desired here to give a shadowy hint of the mode 
of life and the personalities of a few, in the piti- 
fully inadequate method of adulteration through 
the medium of human thought and words. 


seventy-four: an island of water 

My sub-title is not a mere meaningless catch 
phrase, but a reality. In Ruth Rose's chapter on 
Osborn Island she concerned herself, and rightly, 
not only with the things bound to earth, but the 
birds flying overhead and the sea-lions on the beach 
who live their active lives beneath the waves. The 
island of which I write is a tiny speck of the bottom 
of the Pacific Ocean and my interest in this has 
to do with both this bottom land and its inhabi- 
tants, as well as with the host of creatures which 
swims and floats to and fro over it, at various ele- 
vations, up to the surface itself. 

I justify my title in another way. The diction- 
ary defines island as a body of land entirely sur- 
rounded by water, to which characterization my 
island has the more logical right, for mine uses the 
word surround in the completer sense of being 
covered as well as margined by water. Etymology 
even comes to my aid, in the old Anglo Saxon 
ea-land, which may be interpreted water-land or 
sea-land. This is exactly what I established in 

As to my title itself, taken from the number of 
this station, no defense is required. Is it not the 
most holy and lucky of numbers, containing the 



Hebraic significance of all that is abundant, satis- 
factory and complete! And as for precedent I 
can indicate in olden times "The Seventy" the title 
of the seventy-two translators of the Septuagint, 
and (it seems only yesterday), who of us will for- 
get, who have seen and heard them, — the thousands 
upon thousands of long, slender stems, with up- 
raised muzzles alert and ready like the fangs of 
faithful watch-dogs, stretching on and on in an 
unending, unbroken, unbreakable line, over hills 
and through valleys, like the towers of the Great 
Wall— les soixante-qmnze ! 

My intention in regard to an island of water was 
simultaneous with my turning from the jungle to 
the ocean — exemplifying my passion for small, re- 
stricted things. In many ways an island is much 
more significant than a continent, a solitary tree 
than a jungle, the life history of a single family of 
living creatures, or of one species, or, better still, 
individual, than casual studies of an entire phylum. 
This accounts for my biased researches in times 
past.^ I fear that the same characteristic would 
always rob a jail of its horror — there are reasons 
why I would rather be the Prisoner of Chillon 
than the Wandering Jew. 

When I began studying the oceanographic voy- 

* Natural History of Pheasants, N. Y. Zool. Soc. 

"Four Square Feet of Jungle," Zoologica, II, p. 107. 

"The Bird of the Wine-Colored Egg," Jungle Days, p. 182. 

"Birds of a Single Tree," Zoologica, II, p. 55. 

"A Jungle Labor Union," Edge of the Jungle, p. 149. 

"A Chain of Jungle Life," Jungle Days, p. 3. 

"The Three-toed Sloth," Zoologica, VII, p. 1. 


ages of past years, one thing stood out at once — 
the tremendous distances covered. The ship would 
stop to sound, make a haul, and then up sails or 
steam, and away a few hundred miles to the next 
station, — the very name station being significant of 
railway speed. This was necessary, for pioneers 
in any field must be peripatetic. Much good 
Columbus would have done the world, milling 
around in one spot in mid-ocean, or Balboa if he 
had been content to rest at the foot of his Darien 
peak. There is still need for hundreds of more 
voyages of widest range before we can know the 
distribution of ocean life with any accuracy. 

My objects in the Arcturus adventure militated 
against any prolonged study of a single locality. 
To learn anything of the Sargasso Sea and the 
Humboldt Current I must cover hundreds and 
thousands of miles, and this I had done. But away 
at the back of my mind was an obstinate intention 
to have a try at making an island out of an enor- 
mously tall column of water resting on a limited 
bit of very wet land. I was conservative in my first 
attempt and decided to select a place where the 
pillar of water was less than a mile in height. I 
say height advisedly, for if anything is worth 
studying intensively, one must absolutely identify 
oneself with it. Some of the greatest joys of my 
life come when I shed the unlovely man-body thing 
which I am condemned to carry about through life 
as transportation and periscope to my mind and 
soul. For the time being I must become pheasant, 
protozoan, sloth or tree. 


Now I was to become, not only a fish, but one 
on the bottom — on the face of my island, so that I 
must speak of the height, not the depth, of the 
water overhead. It is an easy thing to do, if you 
love to do it, and on land the reverse is equally 
facile, for the depth of air over a given place be- 
comes almost a trite term, when you have flown 
over it a score of times. 

I cheated perhaps a little about my water island, 
but I was so anxious to have it a success, that I 
was willing to load the dice a bit. By this I mean 
that I let myself be influenced in choosing the spot 
by the memory of an unusually splendid haul which 
I had made not far away a few weeks before — 
not a very heinous thing to be sure, but not quite 
as sporting as would have been steaming blindly 
ahead and suddenly stopping anywhere in open 

When I came to think of all the details of my 
new endeavor, the subconscious worry and fear of 
the whole expeditionary responsibility, which was 
always hanging over me, became more vivid — float- 
ing to the surface of my mind and unpityingly 
pointing out the situation. A ship is made to 
travel, its engines to throb, and although I was 
in complete command, yet the shadow of my old 
passenger subordination always lay heavy upon 
my decisions. There seemed too, something 
against all the traditions of the sea in thus wilfully 
turning a perfectly good vessel into a derelict of 
sorts, even for a time. I pictured the weed and 
barnacles on ihe keel as sprouting forth in awful 


rapidity of growth during the period of inaction, 
the engines becoming rusty, the engineers and 
oilers faUing asleep one by one — indeed before I 
knew it I had visualized another Flying Dutch- 
man, only under a static instead of a dynamic 
spell; I seemed to be laying the foundation of a 
Pacific sea of dead ships. 

I prepared for the experiment by the study of 
a wholly different type of fish fauna — the shore 
fishes of Cocos Island, — that speck of land so be- 
loved by the pirates of old, about five hundred 
miles off the coast of Panama. If preliminary 
success was augury of good luck, I should have 
been contented, for the finny inhabitants of 
Chatham Bay yielded up their secrets in wonder- 
ful fashion. The rainy season had been a jest at 
the Galapagos, but no season ever merited it more 
than at Cocos. As I spent most of my time in my 
diving helmet beneath the surface I hardly noticed 
the constant downpour, but it was a fact that the 
air was saturated most of the time. Dwight 
Franklin one day laid a water-color sketch marked 
"Cocos" on my laboratory desk, a composition con- 
sisting of a wide expanse of sea, with a small 
smudge of a rain storm in the center; a joke but 
not an exaggeration. 

When I had once halted my ship in mid-ocean 
I had no hesitation in knowing what to do. I 
wanted to learn all I could of what flew in the air, 
floated on the surface, dived in the depths or 
burrowed into the substance of this tiny pin-point 
in the great Pacific. But now that I have finished 


and steamed away, and weeks have passed since the 
last dredge came up, I am confused as to the man- 
ner of telling about it. What I did day and night, 
of dredging and trawling, was done so blindly, so 
gropingly, what came up was such a pitiful frac- 
tion of the great mass of hfe which must be below, 
that I feel like a deaf, dumb and blind person 
attempting to interpret a wholly new and strange 

With more usual islands, one naturally begins 
with the life of the ground, then that of the trees, 
and finally with net and gun and glasses one 
collects and studies the beings of the free air. Here 
I shall reverse the process and begin with the top 
of the water column. 

On Sunday, May twenty-fourth, in the late 
afternoon we pulled up anchor at Cocos Island, 
and steamed westward out of Chatham Bay, slowly 
encircling the island. After skirting the south- 
ern headlands and passing the zone of uncharted 
shore, I gave orders to turn south, and in a swirl 
of wind and rain Cocos changed from dull green 
to grey, and finally was lost in the black mist of 
night. Under slow speed we crept southward, and 
at dawn, with the mountainous little island just 
visible on the northern horizon. Bill Merriam let 
go the sounding weight. Minute after minute the 
piano wire hummed its song of swift descent into 
the blue waters, and came to rest at last when the 
seventy-five pounds of oval iron weight struck 
bottom in seven hundred and seventy-one fathoms 
— both weight and depth sonorously reiterating 


the sound of the new station's number — Seventy- 
four. Thus was made first contact with my island 
of water. 

For the next ten days, from early on this Mon- 
day of May twenty-fifth, to five in the afternoon 
of June third, we floated, within as small an area 
as was possible without anchoring, above the isle 
of our own making. I will give it the dignity of a 
definition such as used to be printed in our school 
geographies : 

The center of the island is four and a half degrees of 
latitude north of the equator, and eighty-seven degrees of 
longitude west of Greenwich. Its nearest terrestrial 
neighbor is Cocos Island, which is due north, one degree, 
or sixty miles. To the south-west, three hundred and 
fifteen miles away, is Tower Island, the nearest of the 
Galapagos, and the nearest point on the American conti- 
nent is Florena Point, Costa Rica, three hundred and five 
miles northeast. The inhabitants of Seventy-four are 
engaged chiefly in fishing, its exports being fish, sea- 
cucumbers, jelly-fish and other marine products, while its 
imports consist of entangled dredges, coal ashes and 
fresh-water rain. For ten days it was a colonial posses- 
sion of the United States. It has now reverted to No 
Man's Land and the realm of memory and imagination. 

Cocos vanished from sight early in the evening 
of that damp Sunday, yet day and night thereafter 
we were constantly to feel her influence, even when 
sixty miles away. The rain steadied to a down- 
pour, and as I looked out of my cabin door, the 
deck was a maze of starred splashes, and the edge 


of the blackness a thin screen of slanted, pearl- 
grey lines etched on the substance of night. 

At midnight the unending warp of rain still 
threaded the invisible sky and sea. I lay in my 
bunk and listened to the unearthly cries of the 
confused sea-birds. The high, shrill, pitiful notes 
filtered through the murk, and then, suddenly, 
several ghostly forms would shape themselves, flut- 
tering tremulously far out in the driving wind and 
rain, proving that the darkness was not darkness 
after all. 

In the museum of Uyeno Park, Tokio, there 
was once an incomparable collection of kakemonos 
— the rarest work of the best old masters of Yeddo 
and China — all taken now by the earthquake. Un- 
known to me, there was hidden deep within a for- 
gotten cell of memory, a clear-cut vision of one, 
showing sea-gulls flying in the rain. And now, on 
this rainy midnight at sea, the picture flashed to 
consciousness, for there before me, framed in the 
long rectangle of my cabin door, Hokasai's kake- 
mono lived again. 

I lay back in the bunk, writing on my drawn-up 
knees, my posture recalling Stevenson or Twain 
in everything except the value of what I wrote. 
A half hour passed and the rain was Monday's 
rain, when I heard a gentle whipping of wings — 
the sharper tone which is given out when wings 
are very wet. In mid-air in my cabin, beating a 
little cross current to my electric fan, was one of 
the fairy terns of Cocos. As I looked, the immacu- 
late little beauty fluttered upward and poised close 


to the wall light, then sank slowly and came to rest 
on my knee. I finished my sentence and began to 
write a description of the dainty bird, while it 
ruffled and shook and settled its plumage into 
place, showering me with drops. I felt no envy 
of Stevenson or Twain now. For the space of 
several minutes we looked at each other, the tern 
much the more composed and less breathless of the 
two. Then, lightly as thistle-down, it rose, flut- 
tered over to my desk and alighted in the middle 
of a large map of Cocos Island which happened 
to be lying there (Go ahead, Reader, say it your- 
self, I won't bother to write it!). 

For a long time the bird preened its white plum- 
age, looking about with its dark, quick eyes and 
burying the slender beak deep in the feathers, 
fluffing them out. The chicory blue of the beak 
was just the touch needed to set off the snow-white 
plumage. As it preened, it walked slowly about 
on the paper Cocos, the violet blue webs between 
the toes pattering softly. Then the long, angled, 
capable wings were stretched, high, high up, and 
a half dozen quick beats lifted the whole little be- 
ing, making palpable the thin air. Without haste, 
yet without hesitation, the fairy tern drifted out of 
the door, glimmered like a painted kakemono 
ghost for a moment, and vanished. I watched the 
same slanting lines, listened in vain for any last 
call it might have sent back, and wondered whether 
I had not dreamed a dream. But the map of 
Cocos Island showed a cluster of little, swollen 
blisters where the damp drops had raised the 


paper, and to the paper-flat slopes of Mount Har- 
rison there clung a tiny feather — not soft and 
downy from the body, but a little tertiary from the 
wing itself. Again I looked out and marvelled 
how such a pinch of a white fluff of a bird, scarcely 
a foot in length, weighing less than five ounces, 
could have the courage on such a night to leave 
light and shelter and safety — for it had showed 
not the slightest fear of me — and launch out into 
the driving rain, with the nearest tree sixty miles 

During this first night of rain and wind, boobies 
by the dozen also sought haven on the lighted 
steamer, after a fashion far otherwise than the 
white tern. They heralded their coming with 
squawks, sounding mufiled through the distance 
and rain, and then flopped to the decks or against 
the cabins with a bang. Thereupon they raised 
their voices to the highest pitch of raucous outcry, 
launching awful protests, screaming curses of 
anger and fright until the steamer rang with the 
noise. Toward morning a great red-footed booby 
bludgeoned into my room, missed my face by a 
narrow margin and thrashed his way out again. 
I snapped on the light and envisaged a mill of devil 
birds. At my threshold my visitor encountered 
another of his kind, a hated rival of long standing, 
it appeared to me. In addition each immediately 
credited the other with all the blame for the storm, 
the confusion and an intense dislike for this new- 
found sanctuary. A battle ensued, and with beaks 
gripped on one another's persons, the combatants 


remained locked, lying on their sides, squawking 
full steam through half -closed beaks until I went 
out and hurled them both over the rail. After 
the voluntary leave-taking of the white tern I had 
no fear for the safety of these great birds, provided 
the plunge cooled their frenzy of hate. 

The rain ceased just before dawn and gave place 
to a strange, hard sunrise — a scarlet slit in the ash 
grey of the east, and an unreal, pallid, greenish 
expanse in the north. In this eerie light, at five- 
thirty, we made the first sounding which I have 

In the ten days during which I floated over my 
island, I had rather remarkable luck in recording 
birds. I observed seventy-four altogether, com- 
prising thirteen species. Six of these were sea- 
birds from Cocos, which had come this great dis- 
tance to some favorite feeding ground, or in a 
few instances had perhaps been blown farther 
than they had intended to fly. Of those which 
came on board in nights of stress and storm, some 
were obviously exhausted but most were appar- 
ently strong on the wing, and only confused and 
distracted from their true course by the sudden 
vision of the ship's lights. 

Five other species, three petrels and two shear- 
waters, were true pelagic birds, feeding as they 
flew and paying no attention to the vessel. Then 
there were two strays, probably storm driven, a 
gull and a warbler. 

To be more specific, one day a frigatebird flew 
past with its marvellously slow wing beats, headed 


for Cocos. It may have been out for days without 
tiring, and in the case of such low-lying storms as 
those hereabouts, could easily rise above the level 
of the rain. The two Cocos boobies, the red- 
footed and the white-breasted, came in numbers to 
our lights. These birds travel thirty and forty 
miles to and from certain fishing grounds, but are 
not capable of nearly as prolonged flight as the 
frigates. The boobies of Tower Island feed for 
the most part, forty miles away from home in the 
direction of Indefatigable, although fish seem quite 
as abundant near at hand, and here at Cocos the 
same inexplicable habit would seem to hold. We 
caught several boobies on the decks and caged them 
for exhibition in the Zoological Park. When first 
caught they were fiends incarnate, dashing them- 
selves against the wire, screaming and striking 
fiercely with their powerful beaks. Within three 
days they had become quiet, almost gentle, making 
no attempt to injure the hand which provided them 
with fish. A hint of the wonderful sight and bal- 
ance which they use in diving after their prey is 
shown in the way they catch pieces of fish, for no 
matter how swiftly it is thrown or at what awkward 
angle, with a slight twist of the neck the fish is 

Shearwaters were in sight almost every day, the 
dusky, and the larger, white-fronted species. One 
day while watching a school of tunnies leaping 
high in air, a dusky shearwater wheeled into sight 
directly in front of the bow. I watched it with 
the glasses for a time and, as I had paper and 

Fig. 45. — White-striped Angelfish, Ilolocanthus passer, Valen. 

Fig. 46. — White-lined Triggerfish, Melichthys bispinosus, Gilbert. 
Shore Flsh of Cocos Island. 

Fig. 47. — A Blind Deep Se.\ Fish, Bathypterois sp., whose Chief Contact with Life 
IS BY Means of the Long Tentacle-like Rays of the Pectoral Fins. 


pencil, I followed its flight. I know of no bird 
better named than this. First on one side of the 
bow, then the other, the bird described loops, 
doubling almost into figures-of-eight. At one 
point in its course, it put on full brakes with wings 
and feet, spattered for a few feet through the 
water, with quick paddling webs, snatched a 
small fish, swallowed it and left. 

When I had it in the field of my glasses I saw 
what, to me, was a wholly new observation — the 
dipping of the under wing-tip well into the water 
at almost every outer edge of the turns, and not 
only this, but a very apparent throbbing or suc- 
cessive fluttering of that wing alone (the other 
being held quite still), as if to increase the brak- 
ing power, or the fulcrum value of the heavier 
medium. It reminded me somewhat of my old 
days of pole-vaulting, when, running at full speed, 
I struck the tip of the pole into the ground. Time 
after time I watched the little furrow which the 
wing made, and saw the tremulous pressing against 
the slight hold of the water. After forty or fifty 
observed repetitions, I have not the slightest doubt 
of the material assistance which this habit gives 
to the ease of swift pivoting and steep banking. 

Mother Gary's chickens or stormy petrels were 
present on most days, regardless of waves and 
winds, flickering cheerfully about their business 
of finding small prey. Leaches and dark-rumped 
petrels I expected to find, but when a white-faced 
petrel (Pelagodroma marina) flew on board late 
one evening, I knew I had a prize. This bird has 


its center of distribution near Australia and New 
Zealand, but here was a straggler thousands of 
miles away from home, and yet strong on the 
wing and in good health. It became confused by 
the ship's lights, flew on board and was not able to 
rise from the flat deck. It is accidents such as 
this which keep scientists from becoming con- 
ceited, realizing as they must, how much of their 
knowledge depends on chances. 

The stray gull was peculiar to the Galapagos, 
and it flew around the ship wing-wearily one 
morning, like the one I had seen the week before 
at Cocos. Storm or wind or some strange wander- 
ing instinct must have brought them over more 
than three hundred miles of ocean. The white tern 
and the two species of noddies were all Cocos 
birds, out fishing when the drenching rain and high 
wind forced them to come aboard for rest. 
Numbers of birds must perish in every severe 
storm, for although these seabirds have well-oiled 
plumage and webbed feet, yet a strange fear of 
the water obsesses them, and they alight on its 
surface only as a last resort, dreading some danger 
unknown to me, whether of some dangerous fish, 
or of the fatal water-soaking of already drenched 
wings. There remains of my island avifauna only 
the most unexpected visitor — a dainty, Cocos 
Island, yellow warbler, which appeared one morn- 
ing in the rigging. The wind of the preceding 
night had blown from the east, it was not over 
strong, and the night, although dark, was without 
rain, so the arrival of this land bird was wholly 


unexpected. For an hour it preened its plumage, 
then half-heartedly sang a single phrase of its 
simple ditty. It next flew down to the deck where, 
with the skill of a professional flycatcher far trans- 
cending that of an ordinary warbler, it caught two 
flies which were humming about a dead fish. A 
moment later it rose, and in a steep ascending 
spiral, after gaining an elevation of about two 
hundred feet, it darted along the compass line for 
Cocos, fifty-eight miles away. 

As to claiming completeness of representation 
of vertebrate classes on my island, I announce 
failure at once. No amphibian, whether frog, 
toad or polywog existed nearer than the American 
mainland, but this was the only group missing. I 
lay flat in my bow pulpit one day, while we were 
slowly steaming in a great circle, drawing a half 
dozen large tow nets, when I saw two rocks ahead, 
just awash. Before the first impression could 
crystallize into actual belief, I detected the 
rounded, upturned heads, and knew that the class 
of reptiles could be included in my island fauna. 
They were big, green sea turtles, although one be- 
lied its name for its shell was a warm brick red in 
color, dotted here and there with large, white barn- 
acles. They drifted slowly past me, one on each 
side of the Arctu/rus, merely turning their big 
heads, but not moving otherwise until they were 
tumbled by the bow waves, when they immediately 

Two species of sea mammals paid the Arcturus 
and the island a visit within the ten days' space; 


three great schools of dolphins churning past, 
headed northeastward, while on three other days 
a school or sound of small whales, some species of 
blackfish, passed, going in the same direction. The 
third lot, twenty-seven in number, appeared in the 
late afternoon of our last day. They split up 
temporarily, twelve or fifteen coming close to have 
a look at this strange, larger whale. They rolled 
ponderously about, sighed audibly with sprayfuls, 
and steamed steadily after their fellows. 

Although my island is sixty miles south of 
Cocos, yet now and then I find a dead land insect 
or some seeds in the surface towing nets — a tiny 
cockchafer or June bug, a water-worn hawkmoth 
and a flying ant. On May 29th twenty or more 
dragonflies appeared suddenly on board, hawked 
about, catching nothing that I could see, although 
since the warbler had taken the lonely pair of 
flies, I had seen about a dozen others on board. I 
caught one of the dragonflies and found it was a 
large species peculiar to Cocos, with wings hyaline 
except for a black spot near the base of the hinder 
pair. On another day a butterfly flew about the 
ship for hours, one of the strong-winged, leaf- 
shaped, orange and black brassolids common on 
the island to the north. 

All this radiation of living creatures, birds and 
insects, and, as we shall see, plants and fish, over 
half a hundred miles from a small island, across, 
rather than with, the prevailing winds and cur- 
rents, gave me an entirely new idea as to the effec- 
tiveness of oceanic distribution, and one which was 


rather destructive to former theories I have held. 
If my island had suddenly appeared above the 
surface, and if we granted a certain amount of 
scientific license in the matter of soil ready to 
hand, there would have accrued to it a surprising 
number of living beings, judging even by the re- 
stricted space observation from the deck of my 
vessel and from the brief time period of ten 

This point of view is thrilling to me, and some 
day, when my physical activities become curtailed 
by age, so that I shall be compelled to shift from 
tennis to golf, from dancing to contemplation, 
then I will give up active exploration and diving 
and hunting, and settle down upon a barren desert 
island. If one recently elevated by a submarine 
earthquake or other terrestrial disturbance is not 
available, I shall manufacture one myself out of 
concrete or coral and sterilized earth, off some in- 
teresting shore or bank of river, and day by day, I 
shall watch the accidental populating — the simple 
beginnings of the struggle for existence between 
seed and seed, animal and animal. Then perhaps 
I shall see a little more clearly into the meanings 
of the apparent terrible confusions already in 
fuU swing, which in great jungles so cobweb my 
brain and mind. 

The possibilities which might result from the 
ten days' emigration to my island, supposedly re- 
cently emerged, are as follows (I have allowed 
myself the liberty of considering that the three 
drowned insects are still alive) ; 



2 cocoanuts 

3 other plants 


2 species of boobies 

3 species of terns 

8 species of shore fish 

4 species of shore crabs 

1 species of fly 

2 species of feather fly 
1 species of dragonfly 

1 species of ant (female ready to lay eggs) 
1 species of hawkmoth (female ready to lay eggs) 
1 species of June bug (female : her eggs were very small, 

but having resurrected her, I 
crave indulgence to imagine this 
beetle's eggs as ready to hatch 
into grubs) 
1 species of butterfly ( ? This is included here only by 

the courtesy of ignorance, for 
this insect was seen, not exam- 
ined, and so may not have been 
a fertilized female) 




yellow warbler 



3 species of petrel 

2 species of shearwaters 

1 species of sea turtle 

It is amusing to follow in imagination the direct 
possibilities of the first stocking of the island. 

Class I — Plants — Both cocoanuts were living 
and one already sprouted. They were floating 
buoyantly, and had apparently only recently been 
immersed, as there was no hint of algal or barnacle 
growth. Two of the plants were growing on a 
floating log, and the third — a long section of 
coarse creeping grass — was floating by itself. The 
grass and one of the other plants, which might have 
developed into a shrubby growth, both sprouted at 
once when put into soil in a deck garden box. 

Class II — ^Animals capable of establishment and 
breeding — The fifty-odd individual /terns and 
boobies of five species, would have found a re- 
cently emerged island a perfectly satisfactory 
home, with an abundance of sea-food, and rocks 
and crevices for their nests and eggs. The dozen 
kinds of shore fish and crabs which I obtained from 
floating logs would experience no radical change 
and find plenty of food in shifting their shelter 
from logs to rocky shallows along shore. 

Among the most important members of the new 
fauna would be the dozen flies of presumably both 
sexes which were on board. Dead and decaying 
sea creatures would immediately furnish them 


with provision for their eggs or maggots, and even 
if most of their number were devoured by the 
dragonflies and the yellow warbler, their race 
would probably be preserved, furnishing satisfac- 
tion to the small fraction of their descendants who 
lived, and food for many other creatures. 

On the boobies there were hosts of feather flies, 
so many in some cases, that they flew off at the 
slightest disturbance, and could thus be counted 
upon as another source of food. The ant and the 
hawkmoth being both females with eggs almost 
ready to be deposited, they might very reasonably 
already be fertilized. The possibility of these par- 
ticular plants being the kind upon which the cater- 
pillars of the moth would thrive, are slight, yet the 
thousand and first chance has many times insured 
the life of a whole race. The queen ant would not 
have a very difficult time in establishing a colony, 
but the grubs of the June beetle would be lucky 
indeed if they found sufficient nourishment in the 
newly grown roots available in this instance. The 
dragonflies would need some rain pools, and out of 
the score, a pair or two might survive and propa- 
gate their kind, their food consisting of what flies 
they could capture, with the possibility at the last 
of devouring one another. Finally, I have in- 
cluded the butterfly in this class, not because I 
succeeded in catching and examining it, but on the 
chance that, like the moth and the ant, it might 
possibly be a gravid female. 

Class III — Creatures doomed for the present 
to mere existence on the island — frigatebird, Gala- 

Figs. 48, 49, 50. — Three New Species of Lantern-bearing Sea Devils from 

Station 74. 

Fig. 51. — Pelican-Fish, Saccopharynx sp. 
A new species, white in color, dredged at a depth of five hundred fathoms. 

Fig. 5:2. — A Silvery Snipe-Eel, Nemichthys sp. 
From a half-mile depth. 


pagos gull and yellow warbler. With only a single 
sex, permanent establishment and increase would 
be impossible, but with sea-food for the first two, 
and flies for the warbler, all would survive for the 
duration of their lives. In fact at Cocos, I saw a 
number of mockingbirds and yellow warblers 
feeding exclusively along the line of tide, picking 
up tiny shrimps and other forms of marine life. 
So my island warbler while waiting for the for- 
lorn hope of an arriving mate, would not have to 
depend upon the precarious diet of flies, which 
might have succumbed to the attacks of dragon- 
flies, or to some more subtle inimical agency. 

Class IV — Pelagic species — This division is 
merely to visualize the possibilities of three species 
of petrels, the two shearwaters and the sea turtle 
coming ashore and making their homes on 
Seventy-Four, as they could on any oceanic is- 
land which provided crevices of rocks and, for the 
chelonian, a sandy beach. 

At the expense of being statistical, but in order 
to sum up the possible surface and aerial inhabi- 
tants of my imaginary raised island, I present a 
census of the complete initial population. 


4 species of living plants of 5 individuals 


1 species of fly 12 individuals 

2 species of feather flies 299 " 
1 species of dragonfly . 20 " 

1 species of ant 1 individual 


1 species of hawkmoth 

1 species of butterfly 

1 species of beetle 

4 species of shore crabs 

8 species of shore fish 

1 species of sea turtle 

2 species of boobies 

1 species of frigatebird 

3 species of petrels 

2 species of shearwaters 

3 species of terns 
1 species of gull 

1 species of warbler 





























34 species 

So even with the scattered and imperfect ob- 
servations which I was able to make, I could see 
my island stocked with plants and insects, shore 
fish, crabs, sea turtles and birds, the whole number- 
ing over four hundred individuals. 

The earth is altering with eldritch rapidity be- 
fore the onrush of increasing numbers and the de- 
structiveness of mankind. The details of early 
evolution and the clarity of priixdtive relationships 
are daily becoming less distinct, more complex. It 
is a wonderful thought that in addition to the 
continued chance of deciphering the primer of 
paleontology, and the interpretation of the body 
and mind of the young of all animals, there is the 
possibility of learning much from close observation 
of beginnings, such as this stocking of an island — 
an island, desert in the very deepest meaning of 
the word. 


DAVEY J ones' goblins 

Not long ago a man named Grahame wrote of 
a strange creature, "He was sticking half-way out 
of the cave, and seemed to be enjoying of the cool 
of the evening in a poetical sort of way. He was 
as big as four cart-horses, and all covered with 
shiny scales — deep blue scales at the top of him, 
shading off to a tender sort o' green below. As 
he breathed, there was that sort of flicker over his 
nostrils that you see over our chalk roads on a 
baking windless day in summer. He had his chin 
on his paws, and I should say he was meditating 
about things." 

Forty years ago another man named Collett 
scooped up another equally strange creature from 
the surface of the sea and wrote of it, "Head enor- 
mous ; the body slender, compressed, mouth oblique. 
Spinous dorsal reduced to a single cephalic ten- 
tacle, the basal part of which is erect, not pro- 
cumbent. Teeth in the jaws, on the vomer, and 
the upper phryngeals. Gill opening exceedingly 
narrow, situated a little below the root of the pec- 
torals. Soft dorsal and anal very short; ventrals 
none. Abdominal cavity forming a sac, suspended 



from the trunk. Skin smooth; a long tentacle on 
the throat." 

Is it not a very sad thing that we must admit 
that the first description refers to a fairy-story 
dragon, and the second to a very live fish, first 
cousin to that in Figure One of this book! 

Some time ago when I had read and written 
scientific facts until my brain whirled, I sought 
relief one evening by looking at dragon pictures 
by Parrish and Rackham, and then I became scien- 
tific again to the extent of comparing them with 
colored plates which I had had made of deep sea 
fishes. To my delight I found that I could dupli- 
cate or actually improve upon every character of 
dragons or gargoyles. After one has become ac- 
quainted with the everyday inhabitants — villagers, 
aristocrats, commoners — living today in the deep 
sea, Dunsany, Barry, Blackwood, Grimm, Sime — 
all these lose force as inventors of fairies, hobgoblins 
and elves, and become mere nature fakers. For in 
these abyssmal regions there are fish which can 
outdragon or outmipt any mere figment of the im- 
agination; crustaceans are there to which the gar- 
goyles of Notre Dame, the fiends of Dante's Pur- 
gatory appear usual and normal. 

I wonder, if at some momentous happening in 
life everyone does not have the sudden recurrence 
of an emotion which has not been experienced since 
early childhood. Mere height or depth never 
affected me, — I could always look with pleasur- 
able exhilaration over the edge of a precipice or 
down from a roof. But sometimes under the stars, 


when there came the reahzation of cosmic space, 
or at my first ghmpse of moon momitains through 
a telescope or my first trip in an airplane, — then 
I shuddered to my soul, and my heart skipped a 
beat. I remember pulling in a kite with all my 
might, trembling with terror, for I had sensed the 
ghastly isolation of that bit of paper aloft in sheer 
space, and the tug of the string appalled me with 
the thought of being myself drawn up and up, 
away from the solid earth. This, my boyhood's 
very real terror, returned to me one day on the 
Arcturus when we had lowered one of our first 
deep trawls, and I happened to touch the wire 
cable extending down into the water of mid-ocean. 
It hummed and vibrated under mv hand, and for 
a moment stark terror possessed me again as I 
realized where the net was — a full mile beneath 
the ship and sunlight, in a region which for power 
over the human imagination and for utter inacces- 
sibility compares only with interstellar space. 

Only once again did I experience this — when, in 
diving helmet, thirty feet beneath the surface, I 
was struggling against a bad swell on the steep 
slope of Tagus Cove. I stumbled and began slowly 
to slide and drift out and down. I grasped at a bit 
of seaweed and it broke off, the heaving waters 
turned me partly around. My foot struck against 
a coral boulder and a sea-fan gave me solid anchor- 
age. For a minute or more I stared through the 
glass window — down, down at the terrible translu- 
cent blue-blackness of that abyss. There would 
have been no quick, smashing drop as over a dry 


precipice in upper air, but a slow, awful rolling, 
with an unhasting death from cold, pressure and 
blackness. All this terror was wholly needless, but 
obvious methods of escape, of safety, were erased 
for the moment, and any agonized mind was occu- 
pied only with dread of this cosmic peril. My rea- 
son for all this apparent personal digression is to 
try, by every means in my power, to make real and 
vivid to the mind of the reader, the unearthliness 
of the depths of the sea, and to prepare the back- 
ground for the strangest backboned animals living 
on this planet today. 

The simile between interstellar space and the 
ocean depths might be carried to any lengths. 
Coupled with our inability actually to penetrate 
either of these regions, we find ourselves of neces- 
sity mere peerers in the first instance and blind 
gropers in the second. In mid-ocean, whether we 
skim the surface with nets or draw them at a half- 
mile depth, or drag our dredge slowly over the bot- 
tom, the result is a gamble, and may be nothing or 
the richest of hauls. The merest tyro yachtsman 
has quite as good a chance of capturing wonderful 
new creatures as the most experienced ocean- 
ographers in the world. 

As I have said in the preceding chapter we 
spent ten days at Station Seventy-four, in mid- 
Pacific, one degree or sixty miles south of Cocos. 
Throughout all the time that I was collecting and 
studying the surface creatures, I was fishing and 
trawling and dredging deep down — making the 
most of every piece of apparatus to learn about 


the inhabitants of this vertical column of water. 
My success was far beyond my expectations, and 
comparable only to the results of intensive work 
in the quarter of a square mile of jungle in British 

Within the ten days from May 25th to June 3rd 
I captured one hundred and thirty-six species of 
fish in this one spot, and at least fifty species of 

The thought of conveying in a single chapter any 
clear conception of the life at varying depths which 
I discovered even at this single Station, is like 
trying to reduce the sights and activities of a 
twenty-ring circus to a single paragraph. That 
must be left to another entire volume. Here only 
one thing is possible, — to present a few individual 
vignettes, each of which will give some dominant 
idea of deep sea life. 

The surface fauna is visible to us from the air and 
therefore intelligible. Here is warmth and sun- 
light, and even we ourselves can dive a little way 
into the water and live. Here are plants and ani- 
mals, courtships and deaths. The plants grow in 
the sunlight and the animals feed on the plants, and 
in course of time die and their bodies begin slowly 
to sink downward. We can follow them only in 
imagination, using the knowledge gained by nets 
and trawls, thermometers and photographic plates. 
The sunlight gradually loses its power as we sink, 
the red rays going first — and soon we are in the 
violet blueness of moonlight. It is cooler, and there 
is a weight of water which at the surface we never 


experience. On and on we go until, at a depth of 
a quarter of a mile, darkness, to our eyes, reigns 
supreme. But delicate photographic plates are af- 
fected well beyond half a mile by the chemical rays 
at the farthest end of the spectrum. Even on the 
blackest midnight on land there are ultra-violet 
rays playing everywhere, but a mile down the dark- 
ness is absolute ; the temperature has lowered many 
degrees toward the freezing point and now on every 
inch of surface there is a terrible pressure of over a 
ton. Down and down we sink, our feet touching 
bottom, in some places, over six miles below the 
warm, sunlit surface. Even here weird worms, 
fish, crabs — uncouth and unearthly, live out their 
lives in the midst of eternal silence, blackness and 
quiet — feeding on the refrigerated remains of ani- 
mals, which fall from unimagined regions overhead. 

Although the sun is wholly blotted out, yet as 
we get light from coal fires on the darkest night, so 
in the depths we distinguish dim lights here and 
there, and for mile after mile the great watery 
spaces are faintly illumined with the yellowish- 
green glow from countless millions of living candles 
on the skin and scales and fins of wandering fish, 
worms and shrimps. 

With the passing of the warmer light rays, plant 
life ceases, so below this point all the living crea- 
tures are carnivorous, and beneath a certain depth 
they become subject to a death so terrible as to seem 
appropriate to these regions. If from injury or 
other reason their tissues develop gases, they be- 
gin to fall upward. Once beyond the pressure to 


which they are used, they roll and twist up and 
up — gravitation for the moment helpless, and fi- 
nally expire from the heat and light and lowered 
pressure, and float at the surface until devoured by 
fish or bird, or captured by some lucky scientist. 

I was led to believe that all the deep sea crea- 
tures would come up disfigured, with internal or- 
gans forced out, eyes displaced, scales gone. But 
for some reason good fortune was with us and again 
and again deep sea fish and other organisms lived 
from two minutes to as many hours, — and swam 
and breathed and sent forth barrages from their 
luminescent batteries — the strength of which some- 
times lighted up the whole dark-room where I 
studied them. 

Now and then there was enacted some little dra- 
matic incident before my eyes which revealed the 
ways of life in this underworld. One of the best 
known camouflages is the trick played by a squid 
when threatened. He shoots out a dense cloud of 
sepia ink — a most efficient smoke screen which, 
in the sunlit, surface waters, wholly blinds any as- 
sailant, and in the ensuing confusion the squid 
darts off backward to safety. No better plan could 
be imagined in sunlight, but how futile such a habit 
would be in the stygian darkness six hundred fath- 
oms down. Not far from New York City I took 
from that depth a scarlet prawn two inches long 
(Plate VII). As usual I put it in a large jar of 
water and rushed with it into the dark-room. When 
my eyes became accustomed to the darkness I 
watched carefully and long, but not a flicker or 


glimmer could I perceive. Just as I was about to 
give it up I saw a dull glow from what I took to 
be some one-celled organism, perhaps a dying Noc- 
tiltLca. To my astonishment it increased in size, 
and, bringing near the illumined face of my watch, 
I saw the source of the fiery flow was the prawn 
itself. The light now took the form of a liquid 
pouring out into the water, and soon the entire 
contents of the aquarium was aglow, while, swim- 
ming about in it, the prawn could be seen as a 
black, inchoate mass. Suddenly the significance of 
this occurred to me — ^this red crustacean was play- 
ing the same trick as the squid, but adapted to the 
darkness of six hundred fathoms. The squid had 
its cloud of smoke by day, the prawn its pillar of 
fire by night. 

In any consideration of the sea from surface to 
bottom we must not omit color, and it is possible 
to distinguish several very generalized zones, often 
ill-defined or overlapping. In the sunlit strata we 
have the ultramarine and the transparent creatures, 
such as flyingfish and the shelless Glaucus, the 
strange Leptocephalus eel-lets and the infant lob- 
ster ghosts. Then there comes the silver zone where 
live many fishes gleaming like molten thisel. Next 
the area of pink colored life, and last of all the be- 
ings clad in scarlet and in black. Red, of course, can 
be a color only in light, but as a matter of mere 
pigmental economy we find a host of scarlet ani- 
mals living alongside the jet black ones. Now and 
then there comes up a stray fish or worm or sea- 
cucumber as pallid as a sunless plant. 

A .oiq 

_i.> 1. v_y i /j-'y 

(9si2 lBim£a ilfifl-snO) 


e. Just as I was ; 

priv I dull glow from what I took 

nism, perhaps a dying Noc- 

oiy astc ent it increased in size, 

g near the , aed face of ray watch, 

' source of the *]eT\' flow was the prawn 

The light now fnrm of a liquid 

^ out mto the wat ,. .v. n,. <^ntire 

-ts of the aquarium was a^..,, , .,.,..,, -"— 

ming about in it, the -"-"" --')ld be seen aa a 

black, inchoate mass, t ■ ' — 'fi- '' 

this occurre(d to me — ^thj.^ Y%a:> piay- 

ing the same trick as the s ^.x-a, uui uaapted to the 

Fig a squid throwing out a DEFENSIVE "^^ 

SMOKE SCREEN OF SEPIA INK^ ^'^ ^'^^"^^^ ^f 

In ,, ' (One-half natural size] ^^^ ^^^^ ^^^^^^^^ ^^ 


,N^SCENT DEFENSIVE CLOUD^ ^"'^^s, otten 

iil-denneti in the sunlit strata we 

have the ulti^^wice natural size) ^^^^^^^^ creatures, 

such as i' ss Glmiens, the 

strange 1 ■ the infant lob- 

ster ghosts. Then there comt re 

live many fis N"ext 

the area of pin i i iBst of all the be- 

ings clad in scarlet ai ourse, can 

be a color only in light, 1 utter of mere 

pigmental economy we fii t of scarlet ani- 

mals living alongside the j ._ick ones. Now and 
v'^-^ there comes up a stray fish or worm or c'='fl- 
rr as pallid as a sunless plant. 



Fir.. A 



Always the lamps of the undersea host held the 
chief interest. We can understand a fish like the 
coppery lantern-bearer with many lights, and nor- 
mal eyes to take advantage of the illumination. 
Argyropelecus (Frontispiece, Plate VIII) how- 
ever, is the first of many deep-sea puzzles because, 
while the lower sides are lined with large luminous 
organs, the light from which is thrown downward 
rather than sideways, yet the eyes, which are very 
large and bulging, are directed straight upward. 
Why this fish should be denied the ability to en- 
joy its own pyrotechnics is not apparent. If the 
downward sheet of light acts as a lure to attract 
its prey there still seems considerable need for 
anatomical alteration, for the mouth, like the eyes, 
is turned almost straight upward. Twice I se- 
cured living specimens and three times I was able 
to distinguish the illumination. 

Often in the same net with the silver hatchet 
was a still stranger looking fish, Steiiioptyx 
(Frontispiece, Plate VIII). It is impossible to 
describe except that the shape seemed all wi'ong. 
When I saw the first one I was certain that this 
was one of those distortions of which I had read, 
due to lessened pressure, but I soon realized that 
the fish must live happily with a body outline like 
nothing else in the world. The head was fairly 
normal, but the anterior half of the body was 
dragged downward twice as far as it should be. 
Then just when I was willing to accept this outline 
and follow it along to the tail, I found that the 
posterior half of the body was again all wrong — 


being reduced to half its height and jammed up 
against the dorsal fin. What at first glance was 
the lower portion was seen to be only a thin layer 
of quite transparent tissue, through which visibly 
extended various bones and fin rays which in any 
more correctly made fish are always decently con- 
cealed within the body. I felt like applying Buf- 
fon's opinion of sloths, that if it had one more de- 
fect, it would cease to exist. 

When we find ourselves in an egocentric mood 
such as this, we have but to think what comment 
Sternoptyx would make on our own figure were we 
to drift down past him in the darkness of his deep 
home. He had not nearly as many light organs as 
his cousin Argyi'opelecus, and they were scattered 
in patches of twos and threes here and there over 
his much-angled body. Judging by his color he 
was a sharer of two zones, a coat of black pigment 
being overlaid with a tissue of silver. Only once 
was I fortunate enough to see a live one, which 
swam feebly in circles for a few minutes. 

Another confusing condition of affairs came to 
light (in every sense of the word), when I found 
a brightly illumined blind fish. The lights may 
have persisted from the time when its eyes were 
better developed, but a more probable explanation 
is that the rays act as a lure for small edible 
creatures, and the fish, through sensations other 
than sight, is able to detect their presence and 
to seize them. Until we actually know the cause 
however, we can only speculate, and allow it to 
bring such absurd similes to mind as a blind Dio- 


genes stumbling along with a lighted lantern in his 

From four hundred and fifty fathoms, or about 
half a mile, I took several fish at Station Seventy- 
four, of the euphonious name of Bathypterois 
(Fig. 47). For these we can find a more reason- 
able simile — that of a blind man walking down the 
street and tapping with his cane ahead of him as 
he goes. They were good-sized fish, six inches to 
a foot in length, black as usual, and although the 
eyes were present, they were exceedingly degen- 
erate and apparently useless. The pectoral fins 
were compensation, being split up into numerous, 
elongated rays, the lower ones of which reached 
almost as far back as the tail. When spread out 
sideways these formed a great sensory portiere, 
while the upper one on each side was still longer 
and divided at the tip into two feelers, so that these 
controlled a still wider field of touch. In lieu of 
eyes, these many fingers enabled the fish to obtain 
food, to avoid danger and to find its mate — 
and when this is said and done the destiny of a 
fish is accomplished. 

Let us turn from fishes for a moment and go 
out on the deck of the Arcturiis in answer to a shout 
concerning an incoming net. The great silk cone 
rose dripping from the waves, and at the apex I 
could see a sagging mass of pale salmon jelly. 
This I carefully decanted into a white enamel pan 
and carried into the laboratory. The mass was icy 
cold, and no wonder, for it had been strained from 
waters three-fourths of a mile beneath the vessel. 


It was semi-solid and looked as if made up of a 
thousand bits of parti-colored glass and jewels, — 
the living loot, motionless and inchoate, of some 
abyssmal Aladdin's cave. 

I poured water upon it, and with the dilution 
came disintegration of the plankton. As the tens 
of thousands of atoms of jewelled jelly fell apart, 
each assumed the shape and character of a complete 
individual, and at once began to kick or breathe or 
swim or throb after its kind. Visible blood started 
to circulate, hearts were distinctly seen to pulsate in 
the depths of glassy bodies, enemies leaped at one 
another's throats (or whatever they possessed in 
lieu of such a region) , and on the instant of watery 
liberty, feathery-footed males danced and whirled 
in courtship ecstasy about their less ornamented 
mates. These are no meaningless, flowery phrases, 
for within a minute after dilution, the jelly mass 
under my binoculars exhibited every emotion 
known to invertebrates. 

The general color of this concentrated animal 
life was a rich salmon, picked out with spots of 
dark brown, black, maroon, purple, and with scar- 
let so deep and vivid that it instantly attracted and 
hypnotically held the eye. Near one spot of this 
violently insistent color an acrobat drew my atten- 
tion. Although he was floating freely, his actions 
seemed curiously limited. He might have been 
clinging to an invisible bar and doing gymnastics 
on it. I spooned him out and his restraint became 
understandable. Again I call on Diogenes for 
comparison, for it was as if that cynic philosopher 


had been doing hand-stands and somersaults in his 
cask. Here before me was an amphipod in a barrel, 
— a transparent barrel to be sure, but one which 
had been well hooped and staved by some cooper 
of the underseas. As for the crustacean itself, it 
was one of a group which Latreille, a century and 
a quarter ago had named Plironima. A second in- 
dividual in another barrel was wrapped in a veil 
which the lens resolved into a host of pink, infant 
Phronimas. So this was no casual or accidental 
association, and if I could have watched one of 
these youngsters, I would have seen it in the course 
of time seize in its turn upon a barrel as it floated 
past. This barrel, by the way, is the shell or test 
of an ascidian, Doliolum by name, a creature who, 
in common with its relatives the salpse has slipped 
down the evolution ladder a few rungs, after ac- 
tually coming within sight of the vertebrate goal 
(p. 380). Phronima recked nothing of this and 
proceeded literally to eat Doliolum out of house 
and home, and to climb in the back door. Not only 
did she thus acquire a glass house and a nursery 
to order, but a motor boat as well. Clinging by her 
largest pair of claws, she stretched her body far 
out behind, and by a frantic fanning of the water 
was able to get up astonishing speed, at the same 
time forcing the water in at the front door, bringimg 
with it oxygen and food for herself and her brood. 
The head of Plironima was like nothing but the 
head of another of its own kind. Its overbalanced 
appearance reminded me faintly of a termite, but 
its eyes were well worthy of the cranium in which 


they were placed. On the summit of the head were 
myriads of tiny, bead-like facets, each on the sum- 
mit of a long thready nerve extending down to the 
side of the head where were two more normal ap- 
pearing eyes. It seems that Phronima is especially 
blessed with eyesight, for it is believed that the first 
mentioned structure functions in the pale, dimness 
of the general environment, while the lateral eyes 
are better fitted for focussing on brilliantly lighted 
objects. If we can imagine one of the voracious 
Astronesthes coming along in the full blaze of its 
hundreds of portholes, Phronima at once brings its 
side eyes into play, puts its tail hard aport, and 
goes off in its barrel at high speed. 

Every half inch shift of tha plankton pan 
brought a new world into view, or rather a new 
cosmos, for along came a planet rolling slowly 
across space — a wine-colored sphere of a jelly-fish 
— as heavy as a shadow, as dense as water, as beau- 
tiful as could be. It seemed very far from the ani- 
mal kingdom, with its radial symmetry of a flower, 
for which it could blame, or boast some long- 
stemmed ancestor of ages past. Sagittae, those 
swift arrows of sea-worms, showed the trace of their 
deep home by their pink hue — an approach to the 
scarlet and the black zones of water. They hung 
motionless in the quiver of their own body, or shot 
with half -sheathed jaws swiftly through the mass 
of plankton. They are the falcons of this plank- 
ton world, and in the stomach of one I found a lan- 
tern-fish, a Vinciguerria, as perfect as if it still 


A moonstone, cut in the form of a smooth, ex- 
quisite oval caught my eye, and I found it to be the 
test of a siphonophore. Under the lens it trans- 
cended the beauty of any inorganic jewel, for it 
throbbed with life and revealed most intricate struc- 
ture. Its substance was as evanescent as a mass 
of intersecting shadows caught prisoner for a time 
in the meshes of a few drops of salt water, — the 
curving muscle bands, the many infinitely minute 
rods, cunningly braced, the inward dipping mouth 
— all were perfect, and the play of color over the 
surface surpassed the iridescence of soap-bubbles. 

Stirring up a mass of dull grey plankton, again 
there came the shock of sheer color — like a blow 
to the body, or a crashing chord to the ear. I know 
of no other sensation which quite equals the effect 
on the eye — or the brain behind the eye — as that 
of a great, glowing, living, rich-scarlet-red shrimp, 
cold as ice, just raised through a half mile of water. 
No flower I have ever seen in any setting could 
vie with it for a moment. It is worth recalling that 
for countless ages this shrimp and its ancestors had 
been merely the blackest of beings in a jet-black 
world, and only for the past few minutes had its 
blazing color existed. This may partly explain its 
exciting quality, like the unused rods and cones in 
our own retina, when we stand on our heads and 
look out at the world. 

When an unexpected roll of the Arcturus 
washed the main mass of the cold plankton to one 
side of the pan, there remained on the bottom a 
thick deposit of a myriad, fine dots, of all colors and 


sizes. This was, if possible, a more beautiful and 
astonishing world of life even than the larger crea- 
tures drifting overhead. Here were hundreds of 
shells of the one-celled globigerina (Fig. 11), all 
with their minute occupants, amoebic blobs of pro- 
toplasm. Other shells were rounded, or elongate 
or heliced, and with them were mingled a fewer 
number of real snails, some bivalves and some tur- 
reted. Here and there, from a nautilus-like shell, 
an animal something began to protrude. Out of a 
spiralled mass of unrecognizable tissue there slowly- 
emerged two eyes, a long proboscis, and, in the 
wake of several other organs, a pair of wings. As 
I watched, the wings began to flap, slowly at first, 
then with more force and regularity, and the snail, 
shell and all, rose slowly from the globigerina and 
went flitting off through the water like a rather un- 
skillful bat. Here we have the secret of the mol- 
luscan life half-way between surface and ocean 
floor, and again the deeps show what they can do 
in the way of miracles — flying snails! 

Now came two creatures, signalizing the antithe- 
ses of life in these regions. My flying snail and a 
thousand tiny copepods and sagitt£e were suddenly 
shouldered aside under my eyes by a moving rain- 
bow — a jellyfish without a shadow, and it in turn 
was pushed out of sight by a very small but very 
terrible octopus, black as night, with ivory white 
jaws and blood-red eyes. This came along, half 
swimming, half sidling, its eight cupped arms all 
joined together by an ebony web. In those icy, 
black depths, to be a small fish and to come within 


reach of such sinister arms, to be enfolded by the 
living umbrella, and then drawn slowly, irrevocably 
toward the wide-open, gleaming beak, watched al- 
ways by those cruel, lidless eyes, so frightfully like 
those of human beings, seemed, to my imagination, 
a much more awful fate, than could ever befall, in 
our darkest night, any creature breathing air. 

So much for the hastiest glance at a plankton 
haul at Station Seventy-four. The following day, 
at the same Station, we made a memorable haul on 
the bottom, six hundred odd fathoms down, and 
took a whole tubful of bottom fish, brotulids and 
macrurids, together with a gorgeous lot of inverte- 

Of the marvellous hauls of Crustacea, or crabs, 
shrimps and prawns, which we made at this Station, 
it is most difficult to write, for the majority are 
new or exceedingly rare forms, and almost none 
have any common names. Lee Boone who, in a 
masterful manner, is studying them from the tech- 
nical point of view, has, at my request, written a 
few paragraphs of the general impressions of this 
unusual collection which I am glad to reproduce 

One of the most interesting of such hauls is 
illustrated in Figure 55, which shows some of the 
loot from Station Seventy-four, Otter Trawl No. 
3, Depth 624 fathoms. In this were "opalescent 
Gigantocypris, as astounding a surprise as if one 
met an ant a yard long; scores of scarlet armored 
Hctcrocarpus with swordlike rostrum half as long 
as the body, and slender, sensitive, wavering an- 


tennee three or four times the animal's length; 
transparent amphipods who, paradoxically, found 
their strength in fragility; an elegant amethys- 
tine crab whose lilac-grey eyes were set at the end 
of long flexible stalks that enabled the eye to be 
swung in an arc with a radius of half the body 
length, above or before the creature, periscope fash- 
ion; a weird, eyeless, claw-footed Willemoesia that 
has curiously retained the characteristics of his 
long vanished kin of the ancient Triassic seas; a 
new species of Uroptychus, with exquisitely sculp- 
tered body of pearly safrano pink and queer long 
claws that dredge the ocean floor in search of food ; 
hundreds of swift Bentliesicymus, vivid crimson 
slashed with spectrum blue; an apparently head- 
less, multispined orange amphipod — a miniature 
impersonation of some dread prehistoric monster; 
countless scarlet Nematocarcinus whose fantas- 
tically long legs were so shadow-thin, one half- 
expected them to ballet Stevenson's nursery song; 
a small, globular, porcupinish Eryonicus, who had 
solved the problem of living in the great depths, 
where the pressure is more than two thousand 
pounds to the square inch, by evolving a spherical 
form and a flexible leathery coat in place of the 
usual rigid armor worn by his kind; a delicate 
ivory-hued Paribaccus tinted with sea-foam green, 
seemingly as fragile as a bas-relief on a bubble, yet 
encompassing with its shadowy form the multi- 
plicity of segments and the complex nervous, cir- 
culatory, respiratory and other systems that co- 
ordinate to conduct the business of living ; a group 


of comical hermit crabs — absurdly grotesque 
clowns who had cunningly hidden their weak, mis- 
shapen bodies under the deceptive, flowerlike, 
death-dealing tenacles of rosy sea anemones, while 
everywhere, jewelling the nets like fragments of 
girascole, were the little Ostracods. 

"Rendered conspicuous in this colorful throng 
by the neutral tones of its monk-grey garb was a 
small globular crab which seemed at first glance 
as immutable, as lifeless, as a bit of Archean rock 
from the ocean floor, but which, upon closer in- 
spection proved to be one of the most remarkable 
crustaceans captured by the expedition. It is a 
new member of the trible Dromiacea, that curious 
group of primitive, sponge-carrying crabs of the 
West Indies. Like its shallow water relatives this 
species also clothes itself in foreign substances, but 
instead of sponges it uses minute animals, globi- 
gerina, sponge spicules and sand grains. These 
are held in place by remarkable tree-like hairs 
which cover the entire crab. It has evidently long 
been an inhabitant of the abyss, for the eyes are 
small and degenerate and the antennae are exceed- 
ingly long and tactile. And finally and most un- 
expected, situated at the base of these antennae 
and opening just in front of the mouth cavity are 
the ducts from paired luminous organs. When re- 
leased by the opening of the magical circular door 
which is formed by the first joint of the antennae 
(a segment lost in most crabs) the luminescent 
substance glows like a tiny lantern, and may well 
serve to attract a host of small creatures who are 
promptly devoured. 


"Finally we espied the most supremely interest- 
ing crustacean of the entire expedition, who with 
the unobtrusive modesty of the truly great, made 
no flaunting claim for attention, a shy, small crea- 
ture which might well have been overlooked as one 
of the myriad amphipods surrounding him. Yet a 
subtle prescience of immemorial mysteries pro- 
claimed him to be a Missing Link. This is 
one of the most bromadic of phrases, and is misused 
ninety-nine times out of a hundred, but in this par- 
ticular case it is as well deserved as it can be when 
applied to any creature still hving on the earth 
today. We looked, afraid to look, mutely ques- 
tioning the unbelievable evidence. It was more in- 
scrutable than the Sphinx as it was unquestionably 
£eons older in its characters. With fear lest our 
treasure vanish in the dispassionate light of scien- 
tific fact, we examined this exquisitely delineated 
ivory figurine. 

"Could it be an aberrant amphipod? Yes, sug- 
gested the side plates and some of the appendages, 
but no, declared the stalked eyes and macruran- 
like carapace. Could it be a macruran? But the 
carapace is composed of seven articulated plates, 
and the first abdominal segment has no counterpart 
in macruran morphology. Vaguely, it calls to mind 
the anterior abdominal segments of a Lithodid 
crab. Is it a crab ? Still more impossible. 

"Segment by segment we analyze the mystery, 
and tabulating the data, find that we have a primi- 
tive macruran crustacean, so aberrant from all 
known forms that a new family must be established 


Pif, 5S.— A Living Sea Devil, Melanocetus sp., Photographed within a Minute 
OF Capture. From a Depth of COO Fathoms. 



Fig. 54.— a Brotulid Fish Still Living After Having Been Brought up from a 

Half Mile Depth. 




































for it. And so the Missing Link is christened, 
Proheehei mirabilis, for we were convinced that 
Father Neptune had sent a special greeting by this 
messenger to his brother-in-fins WilHam Beebe, 
the Director of the Arcturus Expedition." 

Among the fishes in this haul were eight little 
sharks hardly as long as one's hand. They were 
slender, with dull glowing eyes of emerald green 
and with stout spines in front of the dorsal fins. 
Delicate white markings were difficult to account 
for except as a heritage from some ancestor who 
lived where there was sufficient light to permit a 
sharklet to see whether he was white or black. I 
found they had been feeding on small scarlet 
prawns of a species which we had not been able to 
capture. In the same net were several giant 
shrimps so armed and armored that in a battle be- 
tween them and one of the sharks, the latter would 
undoubtedly have been worsted. 

In the midst of all this richesse, a compound 
thrill was vouchsafed, when in the midst of a mass 
of grey sponge and a scarlet haze of shrimp an- 
tennee, there shone out a rainbow glint, and I un- 
covered a half dozen large snail shells of solid 
mother-of-pearl luster. They were quite dead and 
their food was mud and globigerina ooze, and yet 
in the cold blackness almost three-fourths of a mile 
below the surface, the living snails had been clad 
in a gay livery of orange, green, black and white. 

If I should consider the deep sea and its mhabi- 
tants solely from the point of view of technical 
science, I could never use such words as terrible. 


strange, beautiful or ugly. Because, in the essence 
of things, a pressure of a ton on each square inch 
is only a normal shift in physical conditions, — a fish 
which is chiefly mouth is merely a specialized adap- 
tation to its particular environment, as is the 
smaller organ of our brook trout. But in this 
chapter we may let emotional aj)preciation go hand 
in hand with truth, and science will take no harm. 
To consider variety of mouths only. Figures 51 and 
52 show what came up in a single haul, — the great 
cavernous maw of a pallid-white pelicanfish, and 
the unbelievably thin and curved, wire-like jaws 
of a silvery thread eel. 

Turn please, to the little sea-devil in Figure 1, 
and be honestly astonished enough to exclaim some- 
thing more than Diabolidium arcturi! although, 
come to think of it, that does have the advantage 
of sounding like a hearty exclamatory oath. 

As I have said before, with the passing of red 
light and plant life we descend into the zone of 
carnivores, where every living thing is compelled 
to feed on other animals, living or dead. I am no 
vegetarian, but when I see a mighty ox or elephant 
or behemoth himself in full action I do not belittle 
the brawn- and muscle-making possibilities of a 
plant diet. But the gentleness of countenance of 
a cud-chewer, the soft, mild eyes of kine are pro- 
verbial, and when I realized that tooth and claw 
reigned supreme in the dark under-water world I 
wondered whether this diet would affect the mien 
of the natives. 

Without further preamble, we can safely assert 


it does, although we are only on the threshold of in- 
timate knowledge of the life histories of these sea 
creatures. Circumstantial evidence, however, is 
often conclusive enough proof, as Thoreau said 
when he discovered a trout in the milk, and when 
we bring up a fish which has swallowed another 
five and a half times its own length, we realize that 
we are far indeed from the seaweed nibbling zone. 

All deep sea life has either slid slowly down the 
continental slopes or year by year become water- 
logged to deeper and deeper zones from the surface 
of the sea. Hence we often find relatives of the 
abyssmal forms quite near home. The angler is 
a common fish which buries itself in the mud, with 
a long, fleshy-tipped tentacle lure dangling freely 
in the water. At the approach of prey, almost the 
entire fish opens into an enormous mouth and en- 
gulfs the unwary victim. The capacity and vor- 
acity of its deep sea relatives are adumbrated in 
this shallower water fisher, for seven wild ducks 
have been found in the stomach of one of these 

In the illustrations of this volume I have in- 
cluded seven deep sea anglers or sea-devils (Fig- 
ures 1, 48, 49, 50, 58, 59, 60), to show the variety 
of these remarkable fish. Most of these are un- 
named species but to the first (Figure 1) I have 
already^ given the name of Little Devil of the 
Arcturus, Diabolidium arcturi and the rest will 
already have been christened by the time this ap- 
pears in print. Figures 53 and 54 are photographs 

^N. Y. Zoological Society Bulletin, XXIX, No. 2. 


of a sea-devil and a brotulid from even greater 
depths, taken while the fish were alive, breathing 
and swimming. These sea-de\als differ from the 
shallow water anglers in being rounded rather than 
flattened and this shows that they are not bottom 
livers but mid-water floaters. In fact, some of 
them, such as Diabolidium, could not very well rest 
on anything hard without damaging some of their 
delicate structures. Most of those we captured 
were a hundred or two hundred fathoms at least 
from the sea bottom. In one haul at Station Sev- 
enty-four we took seven individuals of six species. 
Of the seven illustrated three were alive when they 
came to the surface, and two showed distinctly il- 
lumination of the bulb-like tips of the tentacles. In 
Diabolidium not only the tip of the tentacle, but 
all the larger teeth were dimly outlined with lu- 
minescence — apparently a mucus like that given 
off from the numerous pores of the skin. I tried to 
estimate roughly the relative proportions of the 
mouth and the rest of the body and in two species 
found it quite four-fifths of the entire animal. 

And so, had we space to go on, we might show 
that a generous majority of the deep sea fish are 
little more than living eating-machines, with every 
function subordinated to that of capture with the ap- 
palling rows of teeth, engulfment in the cavernous 
mouth, and finally reception and digestion in a stom- 
ach which is beyond belief elastic and distensible. 

I shall conclude my notes on these deep sea fish 
with the account of a discovery published ^ about a 

^C. Tate Regan, Proc. Royal Soc, London, XCVII, No. E684, 
page 386. 


week before we sailed on the Arcturus. This is, to 
my mind, the most remarkable and miexpected re- 
sult of deep sea investigation, and reveals a con- 
dition existing in backboned animals which else- 
where is found only among such lowly organisms as 
certain crustaceans and worms. Three genera of 
these abyssmal sea-devils have been found in which 
a diminutive adult male fish is actually growing 
from the side or head or behind the gill of the fe- 
male — a parasite in every sense. So complete is the 
association that the male derives all nourishment 
through the blood supply of the female, and hence 
has lost teeth and the luminescent lure, while eye- 
sight and the alimentary canal have degenerated to 
the vanishing point. 

Stimulated by this news I scrutinized every 
specimen of these little sea-devils, but was not for- 
tunate enough to find such an association. When, 
from this astounding example, we realize the pos- 
sibilities of deep sea life still unknown to us, every 
haul of the dredge should be welcomed by an ex- 
pectant enthusiasm equalled in other fields only 
by the possible hope of communication with our 
sister planets. 



At four o'clock in the morning of July 25th I 
was on the bridge of the Arcturus when the 
Captain signalled for slow speed. For an hour 
we barely pushed through the water, while two 
sextants were levelled at our namesake which 
glowed brightly in the heavens. Finally a pencil 
made a tiny dot on the chart, Full Stop clanged in 
the engine room and we floated quietly over our 
objective — the sunken gorge of the Hudson River. 
There was just a hint of dawn in the star-flecked 
east as I went to my cabin for an hour's sleep. 

There are mirages and illusions of the senses and 
there are those of the mind, and in the full light of 
day I found myself laboring under both. Our last 
mainland sighted was the old, pirate-famed har- 
bor of Porto Bello. By solar and sidereal obser- 
vations we had been close to Chesapeake to make 
connections with the Warrior, and dredged there 
in fifteen fathoms with no hint of land in view. 
Now we were one hundred miles from the New 
York City Hall, according to the word of the 
Captain, and in six hundred fathoms of water, 
according to the somiding wire. I found it quite 



impossible to realize that my city was only an hour 
away by plane and a day by steaming. The sea 
stretched unbroken to the horizon just as it had 
done week after week, and month after month in 
the Atlantic and in the Pacific, and our senses and 
our minds insisted that we were still thousands of 
miles from anywhere. 

A recently conceived plan only added to this 
conviction of distance. Our homeward-bound pen- 
nant with its one hundred and eighty feet of 
length, for the hundred and eighty days we should 
have been away, was furled, ready to be broken out, 
but no thought of packing had entered our minds. 
We were all still in woollen shirts, khaki shorts and 
sneakers which had been our entire garb for half 
a year. The odious stiff collars and shirts, the 
silly colored strings of neckties, the funereal dinner 
jackets, together with all the other uncomfortable 
and unlovely portions of civilized attire were still 
packed away, snuggled among moth balls in the 
hold. My plan was that our last station — Number 
One Hundred and Thirteen — should be here in 
the depths of this royal gorge of the Hudson River, 
within reach of what was once by far the greatest 
waterfall in the world, and today a scant hundred 
miles from our city of New York. 

I was about to grope beneath half a mile of 
water for vague hints of whatever life the fingers 
of my dangling nets might bring up, and so it 
seems not unreasonable to look back through past 
ages to the time when this gorge roared with the 
thundering stream of the Hudson, and to attempt 


with pitifully feeble gropings of the imagination 
to repicture some of that distance scene. My data 
is all based, of course, on geological volumes, and 
appears to be accepted by most reliable students of 
physical geography. 

As nearly as we can judge, the period of the 
early Pleistocene was something like a million 
years ago, and at this time the northeastern coast 
of the United States was elevated a mile or more 
above its present level. This made of Manhattan 
Island an elongated line of rugged hills about one 
hundred miles inland, while the great Hudson 
drained not only its own valley, but most of the 
great lakes to the north. This mighty flood rushed 
southward through the Palisades, past Manliattan 
and on out toward the Atlantic, augmented by 
the tributaries of the Connecticut, the Housatonic, 
the Passaic and the Hackensack Rivers. 

So low has the coastal region sunk since that 
time that today the Hudson, as far up as Albany, 
is little more than an elongated fjord, the effect of 
the ocean's tides being felt throughout this entire 
distance of a hundred and fifty miles. Even the 
Palisades were much more imposing in olden 
times, for the glaciers had not then filled the 
Catskill bed of the river with the hundreds of 
feet of rocks and gravel which now choke it. If 
we could have then floated down the Hudson the 
Palisades would have towered four times as high 
above us. 

In those days the compound river rushed 
through the channel which on clear days can now 


be seen from an airplane as a dark streak beyond 
Sandy Hook. For a distance of forty-five miles 
beyond what is now dry land, the Hudson flowed 
rapidly but evenly through a fairly deep bed, be- 
tween the level banks of the wide, sloping coastal 
plain. Then, without warning, its waters plunged 
into the maw of a canyon mightier than man has 
ever seen. At the head it was less than a mile wide 
and rapidly reached a depth of sixteen hundred 
feet. Today our sounding line touches bottom 
four hundred feet down on the surface of the an- 
cient plain, while a few hundred yards away the 
plummet sinks into the gorge to a depth of twenty- 
eight hundred feet. Four miles farther down the 
canyon, where the land of the ancient coast is now 
a thousand feet under water, to reach the bottom 
of the gorge requires forty-eight hundred feet or 
almost a mile of wire. Here the entire volume of 
the Hudson, plus the lake water and the tribu- 
tary rivers dropped almost sheer over a precipice 
of more than eighteen hundred feet — more than a 
quarter of a mile. The only thing on the earth 
today to compare with this is Kaieteur Falls in 
British Guiana. This has a maximum drop of 
over eight hundred feet, the highest waterfall, 
worthy of the name, in the world today. To the 
chosen few who have seen this, the mind is able 
dimly to repicture the incomparable gorge of the 
Hudson as it once was. The thrill which came up 
over the vibrating piano wire when we touched the 
very bottom, brought to the imagination what the 
most marvellous piece of music conveys to the 

I a D A a V 


ear. It was a lost chord vibrant with all the won- 
der of past ages, before man or his kindred had 
begun to evolve. 

During the successive glacial ages when time 
after time the enormous masses of ice advanced 
and retreated, the coast slowly sank and, before 
the end of the Pleistocene Age, presented a con- 
tour much like that of today. During all this 
period the wild life of Manhattan and the ad- 
jacent country was diversified and wholly differ- 
ent from that of historical times. As the climate 
alternated from Arctic to semi-tropical, successive 
famias replaced one another. At Long Branch 
there lived during widely separated times, such 
unlike creatures as walruses and giant ground 
sloths. Mastodons were abundant even on Man- 
hattan, while not many miles from the Hudson 
were wild horses, tapirs, peccaries, reindeer, musk- 
oxen, bison and giant beavers. Most of these ani- 
mals lived long before the first evidences of man- 
kind, and the great submarine canyon was never 
seen by any eye of man or his immediate forebears. 

And now instead of thinking back through time 
forever lost to us, I was about to reach down 
through space equally forbidden to living man — 
into a region comparable to the ether beyond the 
neighborhood of comfortable planets and world 
sanctuaries, a region eternally cold, with ultimate 
silences, and darkness and pressure beyond all hu- 
man imagination. 

When our soundings revealed the fact that we 
were actually floating over the deepest part of the 


gorge, and had reached the point nearest New 
York City where we might expect to find the 
strange creatures of the abyssmal depths, I gave 
orders to put out the string of nets which had 
yielded the best results during the past months. 
First there was paid out the otter trawl, a great 
bag of netting forty feet in length, with its gaping 
mouth held wide open by the oblique pull of two 
iron-bound boards. Then, at intervals of fifty 
fathoms, meter nets were lowered, each twenty feet 
long, made of the finest, most costly silk, with a 
mouth composed of a brass ring a yard in diame- 
ter. Five of these nets were attached to the steel 
cable by guide ropes, and they trailed straight out 
behind at the various depths as the ship steamed 
at slowest speed through the water. For three 
hours they were pulled gently along at 500, 450, 
400, 350 and 300 fathoms depth, blindly, un- 
controllably but usually successfully engulfing the 
weird beings which happened to float along in 
their path. 

Although, as I have said, the expanse of open 
ocean conveyed no hint of the actual nearness of 
land and human beings, yet hardly had the last 
net disappeared beneath the surface when ships 
appeared on the horizon. A square rigger drifted 
slowly along with slack canvas, while at her heels 
followed casually but watchfully a low subchaser. 
A line of smoke in another direction marked a 
dainty white revenue cutter which came tearing 
full speed toward us. We chuckled as we thought 
what a suspicious-looking craft we must be — all 


begrimed with the outboard trawling, six months 
of weed on our keel, and rolling in the swells for 
no apparent reason except for an inexplicable steel 
cable leading obliquely down into the blue depths. 
We rather looked forward to the excitement of 
keeping up our mysterious character until we were 
boarded by this bootlegger policeman. We even 
anticipated offering the officer a cocktail, thereby 
breaking no law of which we were aware — being 
one hundred miles out at sea and having gauged 
our Panama supply exactly up to the last moment 
before landing in New York. But the cutter's 
captain knew what he was about and had evidently 
been expecting us, for as he encircled us he dipped 
his ensign and saluted us with the usual three 
blasts. The unexpected compliment thrilled us 
and we answered with the deepest basso profundo 
roars of which our whistle was capable. 

During the succeeding four days and nights 
which we spent drifting over the gorge we had not 
a moment's idleness from lack of specimens. 
Throughout the day we kept up constant trawl- 
ing or dredging, and at night trawled with small 
surface nets or harpooned and netted fish and 
other creatures from the pulpit and gangway. 
Even before the stormy petrels discovered us, we 
were a source of food supply ; the sharks came and 
circled us eagerly — not in hopes of any human who 
might by chance fall overboard — I had exploded 
this myth pretty thoroughly in my intimate asso- 
ciation with them during the last six months — but 
on the lookout for garbage. 


The sailors borrowed some of my shark hooks 
and chains and in quick succession caught three 
over the stern. All were Carcharhinus ohscurus 
— the dusky ground shark which seems to be al- 
most unknown near New York, although common 
to the north at Wood's Hole. The most notic- 
able character of these creatures was the pale color 
of the fins. The pectorals were greyish- white for 
half their length and when swimming in the sea 
they appeared milk-white. These sharks arrived 
singly and converged toward the bow and then 
drifted sternward. Perceiving the slowly drag- 
ging bait, they leisurely swam toward and engulfed 
it, with, however, none of the story-book legend of 
having to turn over on their backs before seizing 
their prey. A male shark measured over seven feet 
in total length and weighed one hundred and twen- 
ty pounds, after we had all estimated his weight 
at about three hundred! 

At Porto Bello we had purchased two small 
puppies of doubtful, or rather of quite certain 
absence of, pedigree. They were most amusing 
little fellows and were thoroughly spoiled by every- 
one on board. Both, unfortunately, developed 
signs of mange and much to their disgust we 
treated them thoroughly with the old reliable 
Glover's. They had grown and thrived apace, but 
now the smaller of the two pups, Blanco Ugly as 
we called him, by accident or intention (the Span- 
ish-American temperament being so uncertain) 
fell overboard and drowned before anyone could 
see or save him. The first we knew of the tragedy 


was the sight of his little body drifting alongside 
the almost motionless vessel. Immediately a great 
shark rose beneath him, engulfed him with a single 
effort and sank from view. Quickly, however, as 
this had taken place, the shark reappeared and re- 
hnquished the puppy intact, — Glover's mange 
cure apparently not appealing to the palate of this 
scavenger of the sea. 

The previous day we had received a generally 
broadcasted wireless, warning ships to be on their 
guard against a derelict — a schooner which had 
been run down in our vicinity but not sunk. This 
was brought to mind when a hatch drifted past, 
then a chair and pieces of masts and rigging. Once 
a huge squared beam was sighted which at first we 
took for an upturned ship's boat. I put over a 
small motor boat and the two men who went out 
to the floating object reported that the beam had 
been adrift for a long time, as it was covered with 
barnacles and weed. A host of fish swimming be- 
neath it tempted me to use the last few sticks of 
dynamite which we had left. A number of fish were 
killed by the explosion but all sank at once or 
were taken by sharks before we could secure 

Whenever the vessel was moving we trolled with 
spoons and artificial squids for stray tunnies and 
mackerel. Large swordfish came several times 
to the shimmering bait, and one even tasted it, 
but the slightly irritated nod of his head parted the 
stout cod line as if it had been cobweb. I record 
all these casual occurrences to indicate the many 


ways in which it is possible to capture specimens 
at sea in addition to the usual nets and dredges. 

Before we return to examine the contents of our 
deep sunken nets and trawls let us see what the 
surface has to offer us as we float where, long ago, 
great primitive eagles soared and looked down on 
ancient landscapes. In relation to those days this 
present year is more nearly 1,001,926. 

The larger surface life was abundant and schools 
of tunnies passed now and then, looking from the 
deck like flocks of violet torpedoes, while dolphins 
came and inspected us, and went on their way 
rocketing. We watched one which never failed to 
leap high and fall back flat on his back with a re- 
sounding slap. If it was play he was a confirmed 
humorist, if unromantically merely to dislodge bar- 
nacles or parasites from the skin of his back, he 
must assuredly have been successful. The most 
impressive visitors were schools of small whales or 
blackfish, which rolled in a dignified, elephantine 
manner through the waves and with huge sighs 
sent up spouts of mist. 

Next to the general oceanographic machinery of 
nets and dredges the apparatus most constantly in 
use was the metal front porch or pulpit which 
we let down over the bow close to the water. This 
was seldom vacant during the day and when aqua- 
tic loot was abundant two of the staff sometimes 
worked in it at the same time, with long-handled 
net and pail. The objects thus captured floating 
over the sunken Hudson gorge varied from scien- 
tifically rare to beautiful to merely comic. Christo- 


pher Columbus hailed birds and floating grass as 
indicative of land, — so the comic elements in our 
pulpit hauls adumbrated human proximity. Here 
is a catalogue of these items taken on the first day, 
showing a pronounced lacteal dominance: 

Rubber nipple from a baby's bottle 1 

Cardboard milk-bottle tops 4 

Empty milk of magnesia bottle 1 

Cans 2 

Leg of rubber doll 1 

Piece of bath tub 1 

*Empty Gordon bottle 1 

Large wooden spigot 1 

*Possibly autochthonic to the Arcturus 

"We were well inshore, away from any strong 
influence of the Gulf Stream, in an eddy-like back- 
water with little current, so that we found crea- 
tures which had drifted out of the main Gulf 
Stream, as well as others which hailed from the 
shore. Although there was no strong offshore 
breeze, yet an astonishingly large number of in- 
sects had found their way these hundred miles 
from land, and we captured thirty altogether, in- 
cluding moths, grasshoppers, beetles, and dragon- 
flies. Some were strugghng their last in the water, 
others flew wearily aboard the Arcturus. 

Scattered bits of sargassum weed floated here 
and there — sad little plants of the sea, for all were 
doomed. Better for them if they had clung to the 
northward flowing stream, within a few days to 

Fig. 56. — Duskv Shark Caught One Hundred Miles off New York City. 

■r' ^'^ 

? si 

sk^^^Tiifiem-ifi ii .—..".^ oss*4 

Fig. 57. — A Deep Sea Shark, Eight Inches Long, from over a Half Mile Depth 

AT Station 74. 

Fig. 58. — A Se.\ Devil with Luminescent Teeth. 

Figs. 59, 60. — Two Species of Sea Devils from the Black Zone. 


sink to a quiet death in the cold northern waters, 
than to bask here for a time in fancied security in 
this pseudo-tropic warmth. With every patch of 
weed — less in extent than an opened hand — a tiny 
cosmos of creatures kept faith, the faith of uncon- 
scious heritage. It was tragic to see a tiny fish or 
a crab chnging to a thin strand, with no hope be- 
yond another week, the sargassum even now begin- 
ning to blacken and water-log. We caught sea- 
horses with astonishing powers of color change, 
turning quite black at night and pale yellow-orange 
in the daytune. 

The small people of the surface were seldom by 
themselves; if they were not in schools, then they 
haunted the bits of weed, or chummed with jelly- 
fish. Great pulsating Cyanea jellies throbbed 
slowly along, umbrellaing with graceful heaves of 
their massive amber bodies. Behind them trailed 
for yards the medusa tangle of poisonous, sting- 
ing tentacles, and in and out of this living maze 
of nettles, small fish swam. They were young and 
inexperienced and they gave me the same sensa- 
tion as I once had when I saw combat patrols crawl 
through a snarl of barbed-wire into No Man's 
Land, where at any moment a Very light might 
shed its death ray upon them. I watched many of 
these small butterfish swimming carelessly along, 
protected from all outside dangers, while every now 
and then a small entangled corpse showed where 
the great jelly had taken toll of its pensioners. 

Although the weed was so shredded and patchy, 
yet almost all its usual habjtues were to be found. 


pipefish, sea-horses, filefish and Pterophryne, the 
latter magicked from weed to fish with scarcely any 
alteration of color, blemishes, berries and fronds. 

A host of other surface persons came to our nets, 
but I will mention only two more. A few Portu- 
guese men-of-war had drifted hither from far-off 
tropical waters, still iridescent as opals, buoyant 
as balloons, and among their terrible, fire-searing 
tentacles, there also swam small fish — fairy No- 
meus to whom color was as balls to a juggler — one 
moment banded with black, the next monochrome 

Almost the only being who was independent of 
weed or jelly or the society of its fellows was a 
little triggerfish, who outcolored even Nomeus. 
Isolated amid this vast waste of waters, this mid- 
get would be seen progressing sturdily and un- 
afraid. He was the despair of the artist. Swim- 
ming quietly in mid-ocean or in an aquarium, he 
showed the usual oceanic coloring — ultramarine 
above, silvery white beneath. As the Arcturus bore 
down upon one of these diminutive triggers, or the 
face of the artist approached the glass behind which 
he hung poised, he became purpley suspicious. An- 
other emotion induced a pale green cast, while 
darkness impelled him to lower the black drop, 
until he reflected the colors of this printed page. 
At times (but I am certain never through fear) he 
turned a strong saffron yellow, while at the ap- 
proach of death, as weakness seized upon fins and 
gills, the little spectrum palette of his body was 
slowly dimmed, and a veil of silvery grey drawn 


over all his scales. Through every pigmental vis- 
cissitude, every colorful emotion, only his golden 
eye and scarlet tail remained unchanged. This 
little Joseph of the sea was one of my greatest de- 
lights — and in his scant two inches I saw and re- 
spected what to me typified fearlessness, dignity, 
poise, adaptation, besides incredibly kaleidoscopic 

I have said that the sea stretched unbroken to 
the horizon, but after we had floated quietly 
throughout the first day, this was not strictly true. 
After dinner I went up on the flying bridge as 
usual to watch the sunset, which, however, was 
wholly drowned in horizon mist. We had no wake, 
of course, as our engines were still, but broadside 
on, to windward, which was south-east, was a long 
and irregular trail, marking our slow, wind-pushed, 
crabwise movement. Slick after slick marked the 
places where the galley had poured out gravy or 
the engine room oil, and here were gathered a host 
of stormy petrels. At sunset there were two hun- 
dred and eighty-six and more were coming every 
minute. I watched carefully and saw eight 
Mother Carey's chickens arrive singly upwind, ap- 
pearing far away on the leeward side of the Arc- 
turus where they could not possibly have seen the 
oily slicks. Later three flew into vision at right 
angles to the wind, turning only when they were 
close. It seemed to me that these little birds, with 
their sharp eyes and long, tubular nostrils, prob- 
ably make use of both senses under different con- 
ditions, in discovering, and directing their course 


toward, a source of food such as this — doubtless 
getting a faint aroma of the floating debris from a 
long way down wind, or, on the other hand, perceiv- 
ing and instantly interpreting any f ocussed activity 
or unusually directed flight on the part of a distant 
fellow bird, when upwind or far off to one side. 

The mist on the horizon rose gradually after 
sunset and smudged out first one star after an- 
other until there was only a handful overhead in 
the neck of the mist. This cloudiness presaged a 
good night for plankton — for all the floating or- 
ganisms which love the darkness are kept down far 
below the surface by the rays of light from both 
sun and moon, apparently as unable to face the 
light waves as if they were a rain of venomous fiery 

I had the gangway put down after eight in the 
evening, and with a cluster of electric lights fo- 
cus sed on the water sought to learn something of 
the surface night life haunting the darkness here 
thirty leagues from Broadway. It is a curious 
thing that while the creatures which swim on the 
surface at this time hate the light, yet when they 
come within the influence of a focussed search- 
light, or any beam of great concentration and 
strength, they are unable to resist it, there is 
aroused a reaction of fascination, and instead of 
fleeing they are compelled to enter its circle and 
swim back and forth in the glare of its influence. 
The first to come were the squids, but any hypnotic 
force which may have drawn them hither became 
subordinated to their ravenous hunger when prey 


came within sight. On this night all were of a 
size, about a foot long with a single individual tv/ice 
that length. They shot back and forth across the 
circle of light, now scarlet, now pale rose, now 
white, and when we scooped them up in nets and 
transferred them to our big tanks neither their ac- 
tivity nor their shift of kaleidoscopic colors ever 
ceased. Once, and once only there came to the 
light a great silver-armored, fang- jawed snake 
mackerel, headed straight for the squids. Instant- 
ly, the keen eyes of these mollusks perceived him, 
their bodies became colorless and they melted into 
the blackness of the nocturnal sea. 

After lunch we made ready to raise our nets, 
which for hom's had been drawn slowly through the 
black, frigid depths of the Hudson gorge. This 
lunch, by the way, was an unusually delicious one 
of fried shark. No officer or seaman would share it 
with us, giving us thought concerning the human 
logic of refusing this, and yet with corresponding 
readiness consuming raw oysters and fried pork! 

Up came the nets, sagging heavily, loaded to the 
very limits of their breaking point. At first glance 
they seemed filled with a bushel of glass or solid 
water. A wild thought of submarine ice came to 
mind and instantly resolved into absurditj% and 
the moment the fii'st net reached the rail the truth 
was evident. Our nets had passed through a zone 
of almost solid jelly composed of untold myriads 
of salpEE of three species. The tubsful of salpa 
on deck increased until our containers were all 
overflowing. These curious beings consisted of 


small, angular, double-pointed bits of glassy jelly, 
each with a pink nucleus, many connected so ten- 
aciously in chains that they could be lifted up like 
a string of living pearls. 

One of the officers with the memory of the shark 
steak still vivid, said, "Well, I suppose you people 
would even eat that stuff!" whereat we all solemnly 
proceeded to eat a salpa. We got no enjoyment 
from this bit of bravado — just a sensation of very 
salty hard jelly. And then I aroused all the con- 
ventional, anti-Darwinian beliefs of our good skip- 
per by informing him that in eating salpa I had, 
rather indirectly, been guilty of cannibalism, in 
that, far from being related to jellyfish, these ob- 
long, glassy blobs of life claimed cousinship with 
ourselves and other backboned animals. But they 
have fallen to the lowest point in the scale — even 
the sea-squirts clinging to our wharf piles parad- 
ing more highly developed offspring. 

Salpse have an intricate succession of alternate 
generations, so complex that no genealogist could 
ever straighten it out. The young larva develops 
attached to the blood system of the parent and after 
a while swims off by itself, wholly unlike its parent 
in appearance, structure and habits, and even quite 
sexless. After swirmning for a time it develops 
a stolon on which buds form which in time become 
adult sexual salpse. These are hberated in sets 
of long chains, which in turn swim off chummily 
together, ultimately separating into individuals, 
who become the parents of the larvae which com- 
plete the cycle. 


It looked as first as though we should have to 
imagine the old Hudson canyon filled with dilute 
jelly, but on sorting over the hosts of salpae the 
more interesting creatures of the deep began to 
appear. Although in the short time at my disposal 
I was able to make only a few hauls, yet in this 
Hudson River gorge I took thirty-two kinds of 
deep sea fish, somei of which are new to science. 
These were represented by seven hundred and six- 
tj^-eight individuals. The most abundant were the 
delicate little CyclotJione — pale ones living in 
abundance at three to four hundred fathoms, while 
larger black species were more abundant from 
five to nine hundred fathoms. They were as del- 
icate as tissue paper, with series of lights along the 
body and relatively enormous mouths with which 
they engulfed the tiniest of swimming creatures. 
When they came up they looked like minute bits 
of string stuck to the nets, but floated gently out 
in water all their exquisite structure and illuminat- 
ing apparatus became visible. 

From four hundred fathoms down we secured 
deep water forms of the Myctophid fishlets which 
we took at the surface after dark. Some had glor- 
iously brilliant gill-covers, with the eyes scarlet or 
green. In the lower mid-depths appeared the cu- 
rious, elongate Chauliodus and Stomias, with glis- 
tening scales, huge mouths and enormoush^ lo^ig 
teeth. Blue-eyed flounders came up, packed safe- 
ly among the salpee, and eels never seen at the 
surface or in any light of day. Some of these were 
sturdily built, with smooth skin of glistening 


bronze, and long, straight jaws which boded ill for 
lesser fish which swam within striking distance. 
Then there were spectral eels which seemed more 
suitable adornments of a fairy tale — inmates per- 
haps of deep pools beyond Mlmia, — pale, slender 
eel wraiths, with inconceivably evanescent fins, 
large staring eyes, and the most absm'd and use- 
less jaws imaginable. With lamentable belittling, 
some ichthyologist has named them Nemiclithys — 
snipe eels — the value of this simile being exactly 
one-half of one per cent. These remarkable jaws 
are thread-like, and just in front of the head they 
begin to diverge, each curving away from the other 
and ending in a conspicuous round ball. If ten- 
tacles were needed by this eel why in the name of 
holy natural selection must the jaws be thus sac- 
rificed! These eels were always quite dead when 
I found them in the heart of the salpa mass, and 
how they live and move and satisfy their appetites 
in the icy blackness half a mile beneath our keel 
I shall perhaps never know. 

Close together in one net were a scarlet and 
wine-colored scorpion fish, all abristle with needle 
spines on fins and head and gill-covers, together 
with a lantern fish with glowing green eyes. Three 
other fish which I found living here within thirty 
leagues of New York City are typical of the depths 
of all the seas in the world. One has been appro- 
priately named Argyropelecus — the silvery hat- 
chet — and when young these fish look like nothing- 
else. They are deep and narrow, with eyes that 
stare forever upward, the scales shining silver and 


interspersed with groups of luminous lamps. An- 
otlier related form has the tail end of the body 
raised high while the skeleton remains where it 
v/ould in a more normally shaped fish — the fin sup- 
ports being thus clearly visible and actually outside 
the opaque part of the body. 

Small and jet black spots were occasionally seen 
embedded in the glassy piles, and in a dish of water 
each resolved into a diminutive sea-devil, usually a 
huge mouth with merely enough tail to propel it 
through the water, or another with a long-armed 
luminous candle waving about as hving bait over 
the great maw, or again an inch of fish with such 
elongated fins that it could never have touched the 
bottom without injury, or in fact have come near 
anything more solid than the icy water in which 
it was born, lived and died. 




We have thought it worth while to present a very brief resum^ of 
each day on the trip, together with the noon position. No attempt 
has been made to list the liauls or to tabulate any data which belongs 
more appropriately to future technical papers which will appear in 
the Zoological Society's ZOOLOGICA. 

Up to the present time about twenty of the drift bottles thrown 
overboard have been recovered, and their distances and time of drift 
recorded. A typical example is bottle Number 885 which was thrown 
overboard from the Arcturus on June 29th, in N. Lat. 14° 10' and 
W. Long. 76° 43'. Fifty-nine days later it was picked up on the 
shore of St. George Bay, British Honduras, in N. Lat. 17° 33' and 
W. Long. 88° 05', having thus floated and drifted a distance of 720 
miles, or over 12 miles a day. 

Feb. 10th, 1925. Brooklyn, New York. Sailing day. Reception 
on board for all our friends to come and look their last. Large crowd. 
Reporters much perplexed trying to distinguish visitors from ex- 
peditionists. Sailed about 2:30; beautiful day till we reached lower 
bay, then heavy fog shut down and we had to anchor there for the 
night, waiting for clear weather to swing our compasses. 

Feb. 11th and 12th. Progressing slowly toward Newport News 
to coal for first leg of voyage. Gale and heavy seas. 

Feb. 13th. Arrived Newport News at daylight. Coaling begun at 
once and those of the party who came by train were found to have 
been waiting for us since the day before. Last day ashore spent in 
feverishly buying everything in sight, for fear we might have over- 
looked some necessity. Ten-cent stores practically cleaned out. 
Everyone obsessed by feeling that this was the last chance we should 
ever have to purchase anything. 

Feb. 14th. Sailed at 4:30 p. m., headed for Bermuda. 



Feb. 15th and 16th. Heavy seas. Ship rolling deeply, and several 
wan faces show the effect. Attendance at meals spasmodic. Every- 
one busy unpacking and dragging quantities of things out of the hold, 
to distribute in their proper places. Not possible to arrange things 
very neatly, as ship is far too active and every object falls down 
or slides around. 

Herring gulls followed us up to the evening of the 16th, and then 
left in a body. They alighted on the water alongside again and again, 
occasionally feeding, but more often only sitting quietly, very evi- 
dently resting. Even when the waves were highest and the wind 
strongest, they rested thus for five minutes at a time, if not much 

Two parasitic jaegers were about most of the day, flying somewhat 
more easily than the gulls. The projecting central rectrices were 
plainly visible. They went through a regular routine of flying well 
ahead of the vessel, alighting and resting until the ship just passed 
them, when they rose and again flew ahead. 

The gulls (twenty-two in all) spent most of the time, when not 
resting on the water, balancing about twenty to forty feet above our 
heads, headed up-wind just to windward and almost over the ship. 

Feb. 17th. Fairly quiet sea and beautiful day. Swung the pulpit 
over the bow and had our first trial at catching weed from it. Caught 
a tubful of weed but not a single fish in it, and only moderate num- 
bers of shrimp and crabs. The weed all in small patches or smaller 
bits and in long lines running with the wind, at right angles to our 
course. Much of it rather old, with distinct new growths at the tips. 
The government's map of the Sargasso Sea for February shows Ber- 
muda well clear of the Sargasso area, but our experience of to-day 
shows this is quite wrong, or that this is an exceptional year. 

Not a bird or cetacean all day. A bumble bee came aboard, having 
flown four hundred miles from the land. 

Noon position: Lat. 33° 27' N; Long. 68° 31' W. 

Feb. 18th. Weed less abundant but in larger masses, and much 
younger (lighter yellow) in appearance. No fish seen beneath it, and 
that which we scooped up yielded only shrimp and crabs. Saw one 
flyingfish. No birds, whales or other life. Bermuda sighted about 
noon. Picked up black pilot about 4:30, and he took us into St. 
George's, through the extraordinary channel, where the Arcturus 
seemed to scrape the coral cliffs on either side. The water is so 
clear that the reefs show up alarmingly. Scrubby cedar trees were 
almost within plucking distance, growing among rocks and sand, and 
sheltering little negro cabins half the size of our deck-houses. Tiny 
islets dotted the quiet harbor, and as the brilliant sunset faded, 
small sounds from the town came out to us with fine-drawn clear- 
ness. Scudding showers during the evening settled into an all-night 
deluge, but we caught a number of small fish, a crab (Callinectes or- 


natus), and a big swimming shrimp {Penaeus braziliensis) from the 

Feb. 19. Up and ashore in torrents of rain. A lovely town, with 
winding walled streets, and gates standing ajar on glimpses of gar- 
dens crowded with flowers and the sea for background, or casual 
moments in the family life of the black Bermudian. We all suc- 
cumbed to another spasm of ultimate shopping, thougli there was little 
enough to buy, and at 10:30 returned to ship with such loot as could 
be had, one item being a ship's cat, carelessly overlooked in New 
York. At 11 we steamed out through the hole in the waU, and rolled 
all day through a grey sea, aiming for 30° North and 60° West, as that 
is well within the area of the Sargasso as mapped. 

The rain stopped as soon as we got away from the island. Pulpit 
lowered and two tubfuls of weed caught, but not a single fish. Quan- 
tities of crabs, mostly Planes minutus, and a single Portunus sayi. 
Many shrimp, chiefly Leander tenuicornis, and a few Latractes fu- 
corum. One of the latter had a full-grown parasitic Bopyrus in its 
left gill. If gathered together, the weed we have passed in the last 
three or four days would make vast plains, and yet it is all in small 
heads or strands, and with little life on it. 

Feb. 20th. At dawn Captain blew foghorn to call attention to 
tropicbird or, as he called it, "marlinspike," flying round ship. Large 
empty ocean, ship rolling too much for microscopic work, though 
weed was scooped up, despite the seas. Sounding machine and trawls 
still to be put in working shape. Small patches of nearly lifeless 
weed all day. 

Noon position: Lat. 32° 22' N; Long. 64° 39' W. 

Feb. 21st. The foghorn at dawn announced the tropicbird again. 
About noon it looked as though we had reached the Sargasso fron- 
tier at last. Comparatively large patches of weed, two or three yards 
across, strewed the sea at intervals as far as we could see in all di- 
rections. However, we soon ran out of this area. A school of dolphins 
stayed with us for a long time, and we began to see flyingfish. Caught 
a little weed but found it as barren as ever, — no fish or nudibranchs, 
and only small crabs. Grey weather continues, and a fair amount of 

Noon position; Lat. 29° 43' N; Long. 59° 38' W. 

Feb. 22nd. Tropicbird at dawn again. No Sargasso Sea. Too rough 
for trawling. Divided day into half-hour watches in bow, but only 
flyingfish seen. Some of the staff still suffering from constant rolling. 
Everyone getting nervous for lack of weed and work. 

Noon position: Lat. 27° 49' N; Long. 57° 45' W. 

February 23rd. Two tropicbirds at dawn. Two blasts from fog- 
horn. Sea quieter but heavy ground swell. Made our first Station. 















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Put over two Petersen trawls from stern and lost both. Third net 
towed at two knots, and brought in one half-inch squid. Put the 
boom-walk into commission and towed silk surface nets from there, 
catching quantities of weed from the small pieces that floated past. 
The usual small amount of life, — crabs, shrimps and nudibranchs, and 
some interesting egg clusters, probably molluscan. No fish at all. 
From the deck we saw occasional large swimming crabs, and wind- 
rows of loose berries, all indicating a complete destruction of any 
masses of sargassum which may have been consolidated at one time. 
Weed fairly abundant, though so much scattered, and young. 

Chiriqui broke out of his cage and wrecked one of the rooms before 
he was detected and captured. 

At 8 P.M. made surface hauls with half-metre and one-foot silk 
nets and got exciting results. Thousands of organisms of all kinds, 
tunicates, larval fish, including twenty Leptocephalus eel larvae, 
feather-tailed Copepods, Pteropods and Heteropods, sea-worms, — in 
fact a solid month of investigation would not exhaust this one haul. 
The Leptocephalus were ghostly transparent, except for the solid 
circle of mother-of-pearl of the eyes, which glowed like fire. The 
nearest of any example in books is pictured in Depths of the Ocean, 
page 92. 

Noon position: Lat. 26° 06' N; Long. 55° 56' W. 

Feb. 21th. The tropicbirds were prompt and so was the foghorn. 
We all think Nature is wonderful, but some of us wish birds would 
sleep late. They probably follow the ship at night and go off in the 
daytime, but these are assuredly the same pair, as one has lost a long 
rectrice and is easily recognizable. Two nets put over at 4 a.m., and 
more Leptocephalus caught. At 6 a. m. another net brought in a good 
haul, though it was daylight. A kittiwake came aboard later, black 
with oil, so that we thought it was a new species until it came close 
and we saw that the black breast was the result of following a tanker. 
On wireless advice from other ships in vicinity, we changed course 
slightly, as they report more weed further east. Sounding machine 
in difficulty, so we wallowed in the trough of the waves for hours while 
it was repaired. 

Noon position; Lat. 26° 17' N; Long. 55° 09' W. 

Feb. 25th. Tropicbirds showed great discretion, not appearing until 
seven o'clock. Made one haul with Petersen trawl, and two with 
vertical nets. Remarkable colonial Siphonophore and an unusual squid 
were the most interesting specimens. Much discussion of Museum 
groups, and a rough design set up in library to work on. Sewing 
machine busy making nets against the time when we shall be really 

Noon position; Lat. 26° 42' N; Long. 53° 11' W. 

Feb. 26th. Day dawned with a beautiful tropic sky, the bluest water 
in the world and a heaving swell with mighty waves, thirty feet from 
crest to crest. The big drum was put in commission and a Petersen 


trawl with mouth 3x7 feet put over to windward over the starboard 
rail. The wire ran out evenly and so smoothly that we were tempted 
to increase the speed, and ran out 4000 metres in sixty-six minutes. 
From 11 A.M. to 2:30 p.m. we barely maintained steerage way, run- 
ning the port engine at slow speed. 

The intake of wire was at half the speed of the paying out. 3000 
metres had come in and all seemed to be going well, when a great 
cry of alarm broke from everyone, as from the blue depths a great 
mass of tangled wire rose steadily toward the cleeve at the tip of the 
outswung boom. The drum was stopped just in time to prevent the 
wreck that would have resulted if that snarl of cable had gone ten 
feet further. The first officer and four deck hands performed miracles 
of cutting and splicing, so that the trawl was saved. That gigantic 
cluster of festooned cable coming over the rail was the nearest thing 
we've seen to a giant octopus. After all, however, only a hundred 
metres of cable were damaged. 

The end of the trawl was placed carefully in a tub of water, the 
bag untied and the net opened. To a Gloucester fisherman accus- 
tomed to seeing his net bulge with hundreds of food-size fish, this haul 
would have been a complete and perfect failure, and at first we thought 
so too. Then in the brown meshes, we began to see glistening silver 
patches, a streak of black floated oflF the net and became a strange fish, 
a scarlet blot was unfolded from a hidden corner of the trawl and 
almost invisible transparent creatures were betrayed by a glint of light 
along their paper-thin bodies. The first live fish of the expedition was 
in this haul, a tiny globular chap, energetic but short-lived. He was 
christened "Zoop," after our German mess-boy's pronunciation of the 
first course at dinner. The complete list of the haul follows: 


1 Wing-finned Globe-fish 
8 Sternoptyx diaphana 
7 Cyclothone signata 
1 pink-banded fish 
1 small black fish 

1 squid, 15 inches long 

2 Siphonophores 
2 scarlet shrimps 

1 Medusa — Periphylla 
6 Coral pink Sagittae 
1 transparent Sagitta 
Many Salpae 

Noon position; Lat. 26° 57' N; Long. 61° 14' W. 

Feb. 27th. Tropicbirds are distinctly a drug on the market, there 
being a supply of two, and absolutely no demand. Fair and warmer, 
real blue sea, and the smoothest we have had so far. No stops to-day, 
as we are headed for the Atlantic Ridge, where we shall loiter for 


some time, weather permitting. Charlie Fish gave us a r6sum6 of 
plankton work in the evening. 

Noon position; Lat. 26° 55' N; Long. 49° 13' "W. 

February 28th. Station 9 on the Atlantic Ridge. A sounding in 
2400 fathoms. The bottom sample was Globigerina Ooze, which showed 
under the microscope as tiny round, reticulated balls scattered widely 
in the amorphous particles of mud. Then a series of temperatures 
and water samples for salinity. Next a vertical haul, which did not 
amount to much so far as quantity of specimens was concerned. Then 
five metre nets were put down at depths from 500 to 3000 metres. By 
that time dinner was ready, so they were left to tow until 6:30. The 
upper one had twisted on the way down, so the aperture was shut 
fast, the next two had vanished from the cable entirely, the fourth 
came right to the surface, almost within reach, then pulled off and 
sank. The swivels of the lost three had broken or worn through, being 
too light for this work. The fifth contained a rather good assortment 
of creatures. 

We are half-way between Africa and America. 

Noon position; Lat. 27° 50' N; Long. 46° 58' W. 

March 1st. Our first really perfect day. Everyone went swim- 
ming in mid-Atlantic. Much other active outboard work done. Identi- 
fication and study of specimens already caught occupied the rest of 
the day. 

Noon position; Lat, 27° 58' N; Long. 46° 54' W. 

March 2nd, All day spent in putting down bottom dredge, and 
bringing it in again. More than three miles of cable let out. Towed 
for about an hour, and at 5 p. ar. dredge reached the deck once more. 
During the towing there was tremendous jerk that actually stopped the 
ship and made us thankful for the automatic towing device that un- 
doubtedly saved most of the gear from being torn away. Front bar 
of dredge bent almost to a semicircle on the obstruction, whatever it 
was, and among other contents a beautiful glass sponge and large pieces 
of black lava. 

Noon position; Lat. 27° 53' N; Long. 46° 24' W. 

March 3rd. Lovely day; able to put over small boats for first time. 
Did surface collecting from them. A very rusty Welsh tramp steamer 
was sighted about five p.m. She was west-bound but altered her course 
slightly to cross our bows within a hundred yards. Presume she was 
curious to see why we were drifting aimlessly about in raid-ocean. 
She looked a wreck, so we feel we have seen one Sargasso derelict 
after all. 

Took soundings and when the wire came up we detached several 
feet of curious red tentacle or tissue, with strands of colorless, sticky 
stuff which might have been bits of some large Siphonophore, 

From 7 to 9:30 p.m. towed three surface nets astern and took; 


142 Leptocephalus 

Large purple many-spined Zoea of an Astacus 
3 small squid, all very different 
3 Pipefish, one with covered ova in its pouch 
More than 40 large and small Sagittae 
Several small fish 
1 red-eyed Annelid 
Many Pteropods of several species 

Untold thousands of black Candace copepods and the bright steel- 
blue Pontella 

Noon position; Lat. 27'=' 57' N; Long. 46° 42' W. 

March 4th. Decided that the Sargasso Sea was too disturbed for use- 
ful study and turned toward Panama and the Pacific, planning to come 
back here in the summer, when we hope the weather will be more pro- 
pitious. And, having given up the Sargasso Sea, we are now passing 
more weed than at any other time ! Tubful after tubful scooped up 
today, and in it found our first Pterophryne of the trip. Nudibranchs 
particularly plentiful and many pipefish. Half a dozen boobies seen in 
distance, and flyingfish numerous. Sighted northbound steamer on 

Noon position; Lat. 26° 43' N; Long. 48° 52' W. 

March 5th. Fairly rough, partly cloudy. Sounded at 7:30 in 1983 
fathoms, bringing up red clay and Globigerina. At 9 a.m. took 
temperatures, then sent down two Petersen trawls to 500 and 250 
fathoms. Most successful hauls so far, bringing in hosts of giant- 
mouthed Cyclothones, many silver Argyropelecus, and best of all, a 
tiny stalk-eyed fish, Stylo phthalmus, so delicate that we were afraid to 
touch it until we found that it was not quite so fragile as it looked. 
A third trawl was put over, and then as the crew and all the men had 
worked all day, the women of the party volunteered to take over the 
tedious work of oiling, beating and wiping the cable as it came in. 
Another good haul. No one left the laboratory and main deck before 

March 6th. Ship rolled wildly all night, to an accompaniment of 
dismal crashes. Nervous scientists staggering about wet decks to 
see whether said crashes were irreplaceable laboratory equipment or 
merely kitchen supplies. No great damage done. Wallowing along in 
the trades now, swell so heavy that course has been changed to take 
it head on. No one has the heart to suggest trawling. Working 
on captured fish so far as the motion of the ship will permit. 

Noon position; Lat. 25° 14' N; Long. 52° 54' W. 

March 7th. Squally, rainy and rough. Put over Petersen trawl 
at 9 a. m. in 250 fathoms. Towed four hours. Result: 

1 pygmy sailfish 
13 Cvclothone 


4 Valenciennelus 
3 Argyropelecus 

1 large red shrimp with antennae 145 mm. long, tip luminous 

2 small red shrimps 

6 pale grey shrimps, with slight pinkish tinge 
Many Sagittae 

These fish were less distorted than any we have caught before. 
Noon position; Lat. 23° 42' N; Long. 55° 09' W. 

March 8th. Sunny, warm day till about two p. m., then cloudy, 
wind and rain. No trawling or dredging. Worked on yesterday's 
specimens. A surface net in the evening got two specimens of the 
blackbeard fish, one of them still alive, and a transparent flounder 
(Bothus atlanticus) with the eyes symmetrical. 

Noon position; Lat. 22° 23' N; Long. 57° 16' W. 

March 9th. On Echo Bank this morning, sounded in 2000 fathoms, 
which is much more shallow than the general depths given here- 
abouts. No hint of the 34-fathom depth marked P.D. on charts, 
though first officer took many soundings with the 100-fathom ship's 
line. Put over fifty-foot otter trawl to 250 fathoms and towed it 
for three hours. Brought it in last few yards with donkey-engine 
and the whole net ripped off just as it came alongside. Put another 
one over at once and towed two hours. Got little new and not many 
specimens we desire. Sea rose and tremendous swells came down from 
the north. At 11 p. m. shaft of circulation pump broke, so engines 
stopped and wallowing began. 

March 10th. No one slept last night. We drifted, rolling to the 
bulwarks until 5 a. m., to the music of breaking dishes and hammering 
from the engine-room. Finally by attaching fire-pump we got under 
way and made slow progress. Pale wan faces at breakfast table, 
after a night of defying gravity to stay in bunks. No work possible 
all day. Only place to sit is flat on the deck and even then we skate 
to and fro. At luncheon and dinner the Arcturus had to be headed 
north to enable us to get food into our mouths. 

Noon position; Lat. 21° 12' N; Long. 68° 53' W. 

March 11th. Like yesterday. Got five knots out of the engines 
and rolled unceasingly. Brilliant day. Flyingfish seen all day and 
considerable weed, some of a new species, with very numerous berries 
packed with the leaves on very long straight stems. Some work 
done, by means of sitting on the deck, with feet and back braced, 
and balancing typewriter, books or canvas on the knees. When 
over or near Echo Bank, put tow-nets astern and caught two young 
vertical flounders, a puffer and a young flyingfish, also several 
megalops of non-swimming crabs. This hints at proximity of land, 
nearer than two or three miles down. Everyone tired out with the 
strain of constantly holding on. 

Noon position; Lat. 20° 10' N; Long. 60° 26' W. 


March 12th. Ocean behaving somewhat better to-day, so in after- 
noon took series of temperatures, and made a vertical haul, which 
yielded five specimens of Amphioxus, an event rare enough to cause 
excitement. At night surface net brought in young flounders, flying 
fish and Leptocephalus, also a fish like a baby sea-serpent with a 
long appendage on his back, and what may be larval forms of the 
stalk-eye, StylophthaJmus. A marvellous moon-bow to-night, a pallid 
coppery arch like the rainbow's wraith. 

Noon position; Lat. 19° 21' N; Long. 61° 57' W. 

March 13th. Sighted meagre little Sombrero Island early this 
morning, and passing it, spent the afternoon and night in the lee of 
St. Martin's; the lovely peak of Saba is dim and dream-like in the 
distance. After dark lowered the gangway and hung powerful lights 
close to the water, and with hand-nets captured mullets, half-beaks, 
needle-fish and flyingfish, and a squid, all attracted by the blaze of 
electricity. All the fish had the typical coloring of the pelagic 
surface forms, — dark blue above, silvery beneath. The squid was 
brilliant green and yellow, and vigorously bit Serge, his captor. 
Seven isopods were taken and no sooner did a captured fish turn on 
its back in the aquarium and show the first signs of distress, than 
these voracious crustaceans attacked it and literally tore it apart, 
an interesting example of swimming scavengers so far from land. 
When we put a light ten feet under water flyingfish flitted past it 
like moths around a candle. 

Noon position; Lat. 28° 17' N; Long. 62° 28' W. 

March 14th. At dawn we were near Saba, and made for Saba 
Bank to put over the 40-foot trawl. Depth supposed to be 300 
fathoms, but we shall not trust to charts again, for found it was 
only 45 fathoms. Pulled in trawl immediately and found it un- 
harmed and filled with sponges, corals, and all sorts of creatures, 
vertebrate and invertebrate, burr-, porcupine-, and triggerfish, star- 
fish, anemones, crustaceans, sea-cucumbers, and dozens of smaller 
animals. Repeated the haul with the coarse rope dredge a number 
of times and covered the deck with enough coral to build a house. 
We are supposed to be in the lee of Saba, but the island doesn't seem 
to possess such a thing, as we rolled too much for comfort. Clouds 
always cling to the summit of Saba, and there are showers and 
rainbows coming and going all about. Steaming back to St. Martin's 
to-night and will then drift down to Saba again. 

Noon position; Lat. 17° 40' N; Long. 63° 20' W. 

March 15th. Fair, strong wind. Close to Saba at daylight. Put 
over rope dredge in 250 fathoms and got only a few starfish. 
Sounded, and bottom sample showed many globigerina and a few 
pteropods. Then moved over to the Bank, and in only eight or ten 
fathoms made five or six hauls as rapidly as the dredge could go 
down and come up. Wonderful lot of marine organisms. It would 
pay to come here and stay a year. Sponges of every form, — carrots 


with stubby tops and roots, vases, footballs, cups, fans, platters and 
clubs, with every color in the spectrum represented, in glaring tones 
and startling contrasts. There were scores of marvellous serpent 
starfish, no two alike, and worms, moUusks, shrimps, and urchins. 
Now and then we came across beautiful little fish, some defying 
attempts at identification, — scarlet, yellow, striped, spotted, many 
with five finger-like pectoral rays, specialized for clinging to the 
coral as Pterophryne's fin-rays are for holding to the weed. 

Someone saw a fish's head protrude for an Instant from the 
centre of a giant scarlet-tentacled holothurian, and presently out 
crept a wonderful Fierasfer, bright iridescent copper and green and 
gold and red, with a long eel-like body and extraordinary eyes, a fish 
that spends its life in the strange sanctuary where we first saw it, 
not parasitizing the holothurian, except in so far as shelter is con- 

Noon position; Lat. 17° 39' N; Long. 63° 16' W. 

March 16th, Running at half-speed with wind, current and sea 
behind us, we are making seven and a half to eight knots across the 
Caribbean. No stop. Passed a school of blackfish or grampuses, 
playing or courting. Big flippers spanking the water resoundingly. 
Two lying quietly at the surface side by side. 

Noon position; Lat. 16° 35' N; Long. 65° 32' "W. 

March 17th. For most of the day a school of tunnies darted to and 
fro just under and ahead of the lowered pulpit. Underwater they look 
brilliant violet, with all fins golden yellow, except the caudal which is 

March 18th. Fair; strong following wind. Two Coryphaena or dol- 
phin-fish caught from stern by crew, on a No. 3 cod-hook and piece of 
white canvas, while the ship was making eight knots. One weighed 
nineteen, the other twenty-three pounds, both females in full breeding 
condition. Got many parasites from mouths and under skin. Seems 
to be no truth in poetic rumor that dying dolphin flushes with rain- 
bow changes of color, as the only thing that happened to these was that 
one developed a line of dark vertical bars which the other lacked al- 
together. Flyingfish very abundant, and weed passing in small patches. 
Several Physalia seen. 

Noon position: Lat. 14° 03' N: Long. 71° 21' W. 

March 19th and 20th. Higher sea, but we are steady since wind, 
current and swell are following. Thousands upon thousands of fly- 
ingfish around us all day, from the size of a bee to those four or 
five inches long. 

March 21st. Entered Limon Bay this afternoon and anchored as 
near Fort Sherman as we could, planning another collecting trip 
such as we had at Devil's Hole three years ago. Everyone ashore in 


March 24th. Spent day at Devils' Hole, acquiring many speci- 
mens, — snakes and birds as well as marine creatures. 

March 28th. All repairs on ice-machine, and pump finished, more 
coal taken on, and four more expeditionists acquired, we went through 
the Canal to-day, and entered the Pacific at 11 p.m. 

March 29th. In the Pacific, an ocean that can apparently be de- 
pended on, — at least this part of it. There is hardly a ripple on the 
surface, and the sun shines and the temperature is perfection. Every- 
one busy cleaning laboratory, settling new quarters and generally 
clearing the decks for action. Put out surface nets in evening, and 
in an hour brought in solid quarts of plankton. 

Noon position; Lat. 7° 15' N; Long, 79° 56' W. 

March 30th. Up early, taking sounding in 2070 fathoms, followed 
by Petersen and otter trawls, and silk nets at varying depths, while 
some of us collected with dipnets from boom and pulpit. Every 
net comes in bulging with so many organisms that the mere pre- 
serving and recording of the creatures requires hours, to say nothing 
of studying them. Just before dinner the water became thick with 
innumerable jellyfish and similar planktonic animals, so that from the 
upper deck the ocean alongside seemed to be clouded and milky. 
We tried raw plankton as a food, and found that so far as flavor is 
concerned, one might as well take salt water. 

Noon position; Lat. 5° 03' N; Long. 81° 08' W. 

March 31st. Station 28, 5:15 to 10:30 a. m. Sounded in 1805 fathoms. 
Put down otter trawl 500 metres and three surface metre nets. 
Captured Argyropelecus and Cyclothone in the trawl, and Polynemis 
and young flyingfish at the surface. 

Station 29, 3:50 to 4:20 p. m. Put down a Petersen to 500 metres 
and the silk net to 250 metres, obtaining Cyclothone, Argyropelecus, 
Myctophum, and several species of flounder. 

Station 30, 8:00 to 8:20 p.m. Two surface nets. Results, young 
Coryphaena and flyingfish, Myctophids, and quantities of inverte- 

Noon position; Lat. 8° 35' N; Long. 83° 01' W. 

April 1st. Sounded at 5:30 in 1826 fathoms. Hard bottom, nothing 
in bottom samples. An extraordinary sight greeted us at dawn. As 
far as the eye could see stretched a clearly marked line of foam, 
zigzagging to the horizon in a NE and SW direction. On the south 
side of the line the water showed dark and rough, while to the north 
it was lighter and smoother. We later found that the temperature 
of the smoother water was 2° lower than that on the southern side. 
This line, that wound across the placid sea like a river meandering 
through smooth fields, marked the meeting-point of two great currents, 
and within its narrow limits swam or drifted or flew an amazing 
quantity' of varied life. Boobies, petrels, phalaropes, gulls, tropic- 


birds, and frigatebirds dived for the abundant food that was concen- 
trated here, or rested, fullfed and lazy, on the water. Numbers of 
logs and pieces of timber bore each a row of gorged boobies, and the 
phalaropes that flushed before the slowly-moving Arcturus foUowed 
in their flight the curves of the current rip as carefully as though it 
had been a cleared trail through a forest. A school of five or six 
hundred dolphins leaped and played to and fro across the line, and 
the blue and silver of a myriad flyingfish flickered everywhere. 
Great patches of the sea were colored deep purple by countless 
millions of tiny Salpae, and every drop of water held a bright little 
Copepod. Under the shelter of the floating logs lurked fish, feeding 
on the worms and crabs that covered the rotting wood, and larger 
fishes, such as the gleaming Coryphaena, in turn fed on them. Several 
of these logs were hoisted on deck and from them fish and inverte- 
brates were taken. Two large turtles drifted peacefully past, and a 
little later, a sea-snake was scooped up from the boom-walk. We put 
over small boats and rowed about, catching pelagic anemones, Porpita, 
Glaucus, Halobates, balls of moUusk eggs, lanthinas, beautiful white- 
winged flyingfish and hosts of crustaceans. There were always sharks 
tacking about the ship, and one was harpooned. The Arcturus drift- 
ing along the rip to-night, seemingly magnetized and held to it as 
completely as one of the logs. 

Noon position; 2° 26' N; 85° 23' W. 

April 2nd. Still drifting in the rip. In the night we heard break- 
ers, a startling sound till we realized it was noise of the spouting white- 
caps that mark this zoologists' paradise. During the night we drifted 
eleven miles to the westward and turned completely around twice, 
but never left the rip. At 8 a. m. put over the Petersen trawl but 
the conflicting currents threw it about until it went under the stem 
and the bridle caught on a propeller blade. The boatswain and a 
sailor cut it and after re-rigging the trawl, we towed for an hour 
but got only a mass of salpae and pteropods. While it was out, we 
steamed slowly west along the rip and every moment was exciting. 
Caught two more sea-snakes and a 32-pound Coryphaena which had 
been feeding on paper nautilus, shells and all. A twelve-foot hammer- 
head shark stayed with us for some time but refused to be either 
harpooned or baited. Several deep-sea hauls proved unprofitable, 
bringing in only a few specimens of Cyclothone from 500 meters. 
This is decidedly a surface region. Night collecting from the gang- 
way under bunch-lights is a weird feeling; the black water surround- 
ing the small circle of intense light, the roll of the ship which, slight 
though it is, seems much greater under these circumstances and 
which throws the water into a turmoil now and then; the vaguely- 
seen forms gliding in the depths or suddenly taking shape as they 
come swiftly toward the surface, and the difficulty of judging distance 
with the lights altering perspective make the proceeding rather dream- 
like. Squids are very numerous and of every size from three inches 
to three or four feet. One huge one shot out of the water twice, 
with tentacles reaching at the gangway; it must have been at least 


eight feet long, with enormous staring eyes like great pools in the 
pale flesh. Paper nautilus floated past, clinging to each others' shells 
in single file. Creatures that looked like silver dollars came into the 
circle of light, others which, until lifted in the net, seemed to be 
nothing but a flat mass of bubbles. Halobates skated on the surface, 
while crabs large and small paddled from darkness to light and 
back again. Coryphaena made swift raids on the half-beaks and 
flyingfish that were attracted by the glare, and once a whole flock 
of white-winged flyingfish came fluttering into view, with a flight 
so deceptively like the butterflies they resembled that the swing of 
the net in mid-air was that of an entomologist. One surprise was a 
great head of spongy material which proved to be a mass of incal- 
culable millions of Coryphaena eggs. And another was the taking 
of a large Sternoptyx, — larger than any we have taken in the deep 
nets — floating at the surface and much bitten by crabs. 

In the evening we got under way and steamed SW for the Gala- 

Noon position; Lat. 2° 08' N; Long. 86° 17' W. 

April 3rd. No need to mention weather in this halcyon region. 
Passed into the Galapagos zone this morning and set half-hour 
watches in the bow, each watcher to record every sign of life seen. 
Coryphaenae, tunny, flyingfish, a shark were the fishes recorded; 
petrels, boobies, tropicbirds, noddy terns and frigatebirds were seen, 
the last three seeming to tell of land not too far off, and at 5 p. m. 
a Galdpagos Gull flew over; Halobates were present all day, and the 
only other insects seen were several moths, but these may have come 
with us from Panama; the usual surface organisms, such as Porpita, 
Glaucus and lanthina were frequent, and one fairly large Pyrosoma 
drifted by; the only mammals were a school of porpoises in the dis- 

In the afternoon a Petersen was put down to 700 fathoms, and the 
best haul of the trip was secured. Two black sea-devils, with jointed 
rods springing from the heads, a fish with something that looks like 
an elephant's proboscis, hundreds of Cyclothones, many Sternoptyx 
in splendid state of preservation, a large prickly deep-sea shrimp, 
strange-looking red and black jellyfish (AtoUa) and hosts of small 
scarlet shrimps and pink Sagittae. 

Late in the evening a half-metre surface net towed for twenty 
minutes yielded one hundred and forty Myctophidae, all alive and 
brightly luminescent. Many of the larger ones are Myctophum 

Noon position: Lat. 0° 43' N; Long. 88° 84' W. 

April 4th. Sighted Tower Island at dawn to the north. Boobies, 
frigatebirds and petrels in numbers. Steaming toward Seymour 
Bay, attended by hundreds of dolphins that converged toward us 
from all sides. Some of them very large. Sounded at 6 a. m. in 
5.59 fathoms. A small hawkmoth flew past when we were 35 miles 
off Seymour. Sighted Indefatigable at 8 a. m. The first sea-lion 

Fig. 64. ^Isabel Cooper, Staff Artist, Painting a Living Fish. 

Fig. 65. — Dwight Franklin, Coloring a Plaster Model from a Living Fish. 


was seen ten miles from shore. At 10 a. m. sounded in 710 fathoms 
and found temperature of water ranging from 82° at surface to 47° 
at 500 metres. This latter is six or seven degrees colder than at 
the Current Rip, so perhaps we are entering the Humboldt Current. 
There were many shearwaters about, one flock of twenty-five fishing 
in one spot. Anchored a mile off Conolophus Cove in early afternoon. 
Much fishing done, and eighteen or twenty species taken on hooks 
from stern and boom-walk during afternoon. In the evening at the 
gangway halfbeaks, puffers and so on came to the light, and many 
megalops and zoea, as well as stalk-eyed shrimps and copepods were 

April 6th. Everyone ashore and a real home-coming sentiment 
strong in those of us who were here three years ago. The place is 
as wonderful as ever, — one place in the world that remains unchanged. 
Renewing old acquaintance with Conolophus, Amblyrhynchus and 
other first families. The pelican colony is small but flourishing, as 
one nest contained four eggs. Another nest with two and one with a 
single egg. Several unfinished nests. Also found a yellow-crowned 
night heron's nest with three eggs, and saw oyster-catchers which 
seemed to be breeding. Seining on the beach just as we used to 
do, while pelicans, coming home from fishing trips, stooped on the 
wing to look at us curiously, not more than arms' length above us 
as we splashed and tugged at the nets. Saw a noddy tern alight 
on the head of a pelican without eliciting any protest. 

To the astonishment of the old-timers, it rained heartily this morn- 
ing from eight to ten. 

April 6th. Through the glass-bottomed boats, as we row about the 
bay, we can see hosts of fish, blue and yellow, green and red, ming- 
ling with less gaudy ones. Rain again this morning. Even in the 
Galapagos it is always an unusual season ! Most of us swimming for 
hours, and seining on beach. An expedition to a beach to the south- 
ward brought back four adult skulls of Pseudorca and one young 
skull, with many bones. Turnstones, black-necked stilts and tattlers 
are running along the beaches, while mockingbirds and finches are as 
numerous as ever. Goats seen in the distance but they remain the 
only wild things on this Island. 

Everyone groaning with sunburn to-night. 

Left the Seymour anchorage at midnight under a full moon and 
headed for Tower. 

April 7th. Dropped anchor in Darwin Bay, Tower, before noon. 
Captain much worried about getting in, as he sent out the second 
oflacer in a small boat to take soundings with the hand-line, and one 
minute he would shout, "No bottom at fifteen fathoms," and the 
next cast would be, "Six feet!" This on the west side of the bay. 
At last anchored near our old spot, so close to the east cliffs that it 
looks perilous, but isn't. All ashore after lunch, and found the rook- 
eries as populous as ever, with frigatebirds and boobies nesting in 


quantities behind the beach, but few gulls and none nesting that we 
saw. Sea-lions sleeping in the tide-pools, and mockingbirds feeding 
their young. Walked along shore to the wonderful pools under the 
cliffs, finding doves' nests with eggs on the way, and collecting the 
small moths that are abundant in the scrubby growth. Grasshoppers 
common, and many little Hemiptera on the low green plants. A queer 
parasitic plant very common here; it is pale straw-color, and looks 
like the shrivelled remains of some low growth at a little distance; 
on examination it is a mass of filamentous strands, completely cover- 
ing some clump of vegetation over which it is heaped like a hay- 

April 8th. Rowing round cliffs to east and south, found hundreds 
of fork-tailed gulls {Creagrus furcatus) and noddy terns in even 
greater numbers, nesting in cracks and on tiny shelves of rock. There 
were shearwaters in small flocks of six or eight, and tropicbirds alone 
or in pairs. A few pelicans were roosting here and there, and many 
white boobies along the summit of the cliffs. Dwight Franklin ex- 
plored island to opposite coast, but found little change in the coun- 
try all the way; coming back he wandered to the northward, and 
found a crater lake. Did not get back till after midnight. Rain in 
the afternoon and showers in evening. Nothing like this three years 
ago. Splendid fishing all round bay and outside, and enough group- 
ers and mackerel being caught to feed all fifty-six of us. 

April 9th. Tried diving helmet for first time, and found it most 
exciting experience. Trite but true to say it opens a new world. 
Went down several times in about fifteen feet of water, experiment- 
ing with pressure, rate of pumping, and so on. A large shark was 
swimming nearby, but paid no attention to the diver. The strange 
beauty of the submerged scenery is hard to describe. The range of 
vision is limited to perhaps forty feet, while everything beyond that 
is wrapped in a soft, luminous fog, a delicate blue haze like that of 
a concentrated Indian Summer, in which shadowy forms weave to and 
fro. There is little coral at this spot; the bottom is covered with 
pavement-like volcanic rock, like that of which the island is mostly 

Ice-machine has sprung leaks, so that ammonia fumes make the en- 
gine-room almost unlivable. We are madly eating meat and fruit to 
save it. 

April 10th. Staff now divided into parties, with special assign- 
ments for each, such as shore collecting, plankton collecting, fishing, 
identification and dissection of fish caught, painting, photographing, 
mapping and sounding the bay, and diving in the helmet. Tremendous 
activity all day. Fishing and diving from small boat under cliffs on 
southeast side of bay, where pelicans, gulls and terns were nesting. 
Sea-lions were sleeping in deep crevices, or swimming slowly along 
shore, and whenever one drifted past, all the large fish vanished in- 
stantly. Big hammerhead shark caught in gill-net, and nearly upset 


the boat when dragged into it. White-striped angelfish floating on 
their sides at the surface, always just out of reach, and taking no 
interest in any bait. A bit of orange-peel, tossed into the water, 
attracted several to nibble tentatively, but as soon as a hook was 
added, they ceased to bite. Saw them rise to bird excrement as it 
fell on the surface. Paranthias furcifer was the fish most easily taken 
on the hook, and all round the boat noddy terns excitedly splashed; 
dipping for and seldom missing the little rosy-red fish. From the 
helmet's coign of vantage, the commonest fish was the yellow-tailed 
Xesurus, moving slowly along in huge flocks. Large blennies are most 
amusing, scurrying over the rocks like field mice. 

April 11th. At one o'clock this morning Mr. Tams, second officer, 
woke us. In less than four seconds everyone who had heard him was 
on the bridge. In the western sky was a rosy pulsation, now flaring 
high, now dying to dimness. At first we thought it must be on James, 
where the most recent volcanic activity has been, but it was event- 
ually located on Albemarle. 

For the last two days the wind has veered to the south and even 
to the southwest, blowing directly through the gap in the cliffs that 
is the mouth of the bay. This is an unusual quarter for the wind to 
come from in the Galdpagos, almost unheard of, and may be con- 
nected with the volcanic outbreak. The anchor dragged and this 
morning we were not much more than a ship's length from the cliffs. 
If the southwest wind should strengthen, our position might be dan- 
gerous, and the heavy surf breaking so near made us uneasy. So the 
small boats were left on the beach, a quicker means of disposal than 
waiting to hoist them all aboard, and we left Darwin Bay, volcano- 

Five miles off the bay we made Station 38, with splendid results. 
Depth 550 fathoms. Two Petersen trawls brought up four-inch My- 
ctophids, and an enormous Leptocephalus, as well as deep-sea Medu- 
sae, shrimps, and some new Heteropods. A great many luminous 
Myctophids taken in a surface net after dark, and several of them 
lived for four or five hours. 

We steamed at half speed all night toward the increasing brilliance 
of the volcano, which gradually assumed form. Very little sleep- 
ing done. Toward morning we could see through the glasses the ac- 
tual molten spots. Bright moonlight, a tranquil sea, and a heavy 
low cloud reflecting the red-hot lava beneath it. 

Noon position: Lat. 0" 18' N: Long. 90° 03' W. 

April 12th. At dawn we were about six miles off-shore, and as the 
sun rose every vestige of color seemed to be wiped out, though the 
whole slope between the two northern mountains steamed and smoked. 
Three miles from land the soundings gave us a mile and a quarter, 
and two miles closer in, the water was over half a mile deep. Circled 
slowly all day as near the coast as possible, while a small boat took 
two of us ashore to try to reach the largest crater. Hours of in- 
conceivably ghastly crawling, climbing, and falling over endless miles 


of crumbling, sharp-edged lava, under the equatorial sun, with heat 
pouring over us from above and below, brought us to one of the 
smallest of the fumaroles, where we encountered an invisible, almost 
odorless gas; before we could stagger into clearer air, we were al- 
most overcome and deathly sick, and dared not attempt any further 
penetration, since we lacked gas-masks. The journey back to the 
shore was a nightmare, and in the midst of tumbling down ravines 
and creeping out again over rocks like heaps of broken glass, we 
were attacked by severe cramps in legs and feet, and made the last 
few yards practically on all-fours. 

All night we lay oflf-shore and watched the glorious sight. As 
darkness came, the lava glowed deeper and deeper red, and from 
the crest of the ridge between the two mountains a long tongue of 
flame now and then shot up quivering against the sky. The whole 
long slope was dotted and smeared with fiery spots, and the huge 
mass of cloud that clung over the place reflected the furnace below 
it. So far as we know, no other eruption has ever been recorded 
from this northern end of Albemarle. 

Noon position: Lat. 0° 04/ S: Long. 91° 11' W. 

April 13th. No anchorage here, so again went slowly up and 
down the coast all day, and towed trawls and nets, while a party went 
ashore to get moving-pictures of the little fumaroles that could be 
reached. At the tiny cove where landing was made, was a tide pool 
about ten yards across, where two moray eels were caught on hook 
with crab for bait. One (Murcena clepsydra) is a new record for 
the Galapagos. The small black yellow-tailed angelfish (Pomacen- 
trus arcifrons) were abundant, up to six-inch ones, and two schools 
of fifty, and two hundred, Querimana ha/rengus were also in this little 
tidal pond. The latter in defense formation were browsing on a rock, 
as close to each other as possible, gradually working down the chosen 
stone from the top, as a swarm of locusts might clear a field of grass. 
Red crabs were everywhere, also the smaller black-and-white spotted 
ones, and were quite fearless, sidling up and seizing the bait that lay 
on the rocks beside us. Gobies covered every submerged piece of lava, 
and we saw five or six Eupomacentrus beebei and a small Holocan- 
thug passer. Several families of sea-lions, Galdpagos gulls, pelicans 
and shearwaters were about. 

To-night at dusk the molten lava was creeping down the slope in 
true Pompeiian fashion, and just over the shoulder of the moun- 
tain there must have been the greatest display, judging by the intense 
glow which was exasperatingly all that we could see. The bivouac 
fires of a tremendous army seemed to be scattered over ten or twelve 
miles of country, and as the hours passed the whole black incline 
became daubed with slowly-writhing scarlet streams creeping to- 
ward the sea. The sun set almost directly behind the ridge, and the 
changing of scarlet sunset into the rose and scarlet of cloud and lava 
was marvellous. It seemed as though a part of the sunset might have 
become entangled on these ravaged shores, while the rest went on 
its way over the rim of the earth. 


The problem of the current on the east coast of Albemarle is a 
puzzling one. On the official maps a steady northwest stream of from 
one to two and three-quarters knots is given, — cold, Humboldt waters. 
This time the temperature has been no lower than elsewhere, and the 
organisms have not appreciably taken on a cold current character. 
The Captain discovered (and we going ashore in small boats veri- 
fied) the fact that at the surface at least there is a tidal current. On 
the lowering tide the current sets strongly north, and on the rising 
tide it turns and sets as strongly southward along the coast, and at 
least ten miles out. 

We steamed slowly northward after dark and at 8 p. m. put out 
surface nets, getting results quite different from those a few miles 
south. The lanthina, Porpita and Glaucus brought to mind the Cur- 
rent Rip. 

We seem to be establishing a record in equator crossings, as the 
Line runs through Cape Marshall and in our volcano observations 
we have gone back and forth till everyone has lost count of the 

Raining to-night. We are now imputing the unusual season to the 

April 14th. The current carried us swiftly northward and at mid- 
night we shut off the engines and drifted. At 4 a. m. a half-metre 
surface net was towed for half an hour; the dominant organism was 
the deep-blue Copepod. The fish were young halfbeaks, two Cory- 
phaena-like larvae, two Myctophum coccoi, and twelve very small white 
larval fish, with large, semi-telescope eyes and spoon-shaped jaws. 
These early mornings the sea is a mirror, with low, oily swells that 
are barely perceptible, an almost colorless setting for the bright jewel 
of the crater. 

Off Redondo Rock we put down a bottom dredge in almost two miles 
and got an astonishing collection. The huge net swung aboard bulg- 
ing with an enormous load of lava, clay, huge crimson living corals, 
orange and pink starfish, scarlet shrimps, glass sponges, Hydroids, 
Crinoids, and about sixty huge sea-cucumbers, as icy cold from the 
chill of their native surroundings as though they were of the vege- 
table variety and had just been taken from the refrigerator. They 
were pink, purple, green, yellow and white, some smooth, others with 
long stems and bristles, or shaped like Turkish slippers. 

At night the volcano appeared beautifully symmetrical, — a red 
cone tapering to a straight column of fire that joined a flat red 
cloud. During the day we heard low rumbles, but it may have been 
thunder instead of subterranean convulsions, as the lightning is bril- 
liant to-night. 

We are now steaming toward Abingdon. 

Noon position: Lat. 0° 24' N: Long. 91° 19' W. 

April 15th. Off west coast of Abingdon at 8:45 a. m. Most of the 
island a sheer cliff, partly covered with low vegetation, tapering off 
to each side, — to the north into a long-drawn-out dead black lava 


promontory. Deep water close to the clifP. One mile off sounded 
in 431 fathoms. Lowered bottom dredge and tangle but after tow- 
ing for twenty minutes lost everything on the volcanic bottom. The 
cable was chafed white for 200 feet from shackle. Later put out a 
Petersen and half of it was torn away on a submarine peak. Fishing 
party in a small boat lost six spoons and most of their tackle to 
huge fish, — sharks and groupers, probably. They caught a twenty- 
one-pound black grouper and an eighteen-pound Seriola dorsalis. In 
the stomach of the latter was a scombroid fish, which had eaten a 
Zoea and two shrimps. A school of these large Seriola were jumping 
all round the boat. 

The island is green and looks like an interesting place for study. 
A flock of sixty shearwaters were resting on the water off-shore. 

Another Petersen put over with cheesecloth bag in bottom, and 
got some curious larval Munidopsis, a pear-eyed larval fish, and a 
medium-stalked Styloplithalmus. At 9 p. m. we tried making a deep 
haul without the deck-hands, and lowered a Petersen and a silk net 
together to 200 fathoms. Many interesting small things but no My- 
ctophids nor Cyclothones. The best specimen a three-inch Argyro- 
pelecus, apparently a new species, close to afflnis with mouth and eyes 
at an angle of 90° up. 

Volcano still visible after dark. 

Steaming slowly back to Tower, not wishing to get there before 

Noon position: Lat. 0° 36' N: Long. 90° 47' W. 

April 16th. Entered Darwin Bay at 7 a. m., with the smoke of the 
volcano faintly visible to the west. Many sharks and devilfish at en- 
trance to bay as usual, and the rigging lined with brown boobit-s. 
Shore parties during day and diving in the shallow water directly 
east of the anchorage. The sharks show no interest in our presence, 
other than a mild curiosity. 

April 17th. Most of us to the Crater Lake this morning. The way 
rises gradually over the usual rough lava with ordinary vegetation, 
where nesting boobies and frigates hiss at intruders. One owl flew 
close to our heads. We came on the crater as suddenly as though 
it had been a well, and found it about a half mile across, with the 
lake at the bottom of cliffs that taper down in successive slips. Look- 
ing down at the water, the centre of the lake is clear olive-green, the 
shallow part at the rim sage green, and scattered irregularly along 
about half the shore-line are dense blue-green mangroves. From the 
northern rim, the sea on three sides of the island was visible, and 
from the west the Arcturus lying in the bay could be seen. We had 
a hard time getting down, burdened with nets, bags and buckets. 
Close to shore the mud was only shoe-deep, but beyond the man- 
groves we sank in to the knees, stirring up an overpowering smell of 
rotting matter, animal and vegetable. Green algae thickened the 
water in many places, and everywhere were untold myriads of small 
water-striders, and aquatic Hemiptera, the "water-boatmen." Small 


round bivalves covered every strand of the weed. We found a spot 
where deep water was closest to shore and swam part way across the 
lake. The water was intensely salt, so that we floated high in it, and 
it made the eyes smart. Took a salinity bottle full for sample (Fig. 67). 

In the crater was an almost pure culture of red-footed boobies 
nesting in the mangroves, in nearly every case a bird in the white 
phase mated with a brown one. There were at least six birds that 
were brown with white scapulars and 'inner flight-feathers, two of 
which were sitting on eggs. Two pairs of yellow warblers were sing- 
ing, and a flock of about twenty-five turnstones were feeding on the 
insects. A few frigatebirds were nesting high up on the crater-sides. 

Along shore was a long-stemmed, jointed, floating grass, to which 
were fastened millions of eggs and developing water-striders. 

Diving in the afternoon. 

April 18th. Long diving sessions most of day. Took down crab 
bait and thousands of fishes ate from the hand. Literally clouds of 
small fish, such as Paranthias, Pomacentrus, and Thallasoma, swarm 
about twitching off bits of the bait; the sensation is of an aquatic 
version of feeding pigeons at St. Mark's. Also some successful har- 
pooning of fish done under water, a large blenny, four yellow-tailed 
Xesurus, a beautiful specimen of Chcetodon nigrirostria, and the blue- 
striped golden Evoplites viridis being obtained in this way. The 
larger fish do jiot seem so hungry, or perhaps it is that they are 
more cautious, but the small ones are quite fearless and brush against 
the diver's arms and legs as unconcernedly as though he were a 
familiar sight. 

Saw Evoplites two and a half feet long. They feed on crabs, tak- 
ing -in whole sections of leg- joints. 

April 19th. Shore parties as usual, fishing parties in bay, and a 
trial at diving in one of the deep rock pools to the west of our land- 
ing beach. Very different in absolutely quiet water from the surge 
along shore that scrapes one along helplessly. 

A friendly penguin was added to the passenger list. 

April 20th. More diving and fishing from the rocks under the cliffs. 
One method of collecting is to have a bucket lowered to the diver 
after he reaches the bottom; this he fills with rocks, which are placed 
in a large tub on deck of ship, and in a day or two all the crea- 
tures have crawled out of their nooks and are easily obtained. Mol- 
lusks, worms, annelids, squillae, isopods, and many species of crabs 
have been collected in this way. 

At 4:30 p. m. we started for Hood Island. It is like leaving home to 
go from this place that is so familiar to us, — birds, cliffs, sandy beach, 
and now even the underwater portion of it is not entirely imknown. 
Large rays were leaping in the bay as we steamed through the narrow 
opening, and the sea side of the eastern point was solid white over a 
large area with white boobies. 

At 9:30, south of Tower, towed a surface net for twenty minutes 


and caught 1288 Myctophids, of which 88 were M. coccoi, and the rest 
M. affinis. 

April 21st. Awoke to a heavy swell and a squally, rainy day, most 
unlike this region. Passed Barrington early, and Chatham in the 
afternoon, dim and hazy in rain-clouds. Sounded at 3:30 p. m. in 
173 fathoms and a Petersen trawl yielded nothing but a few very 
remarkable crab larvae, some with enormously lengthened fore and 
aft bars, and others with radiating rods with strange swellings on 
some of them. 

Several albatrosses flew past the ship and we could see the eastern 
end of Hood, where they nest. Occasional large flyingfish, and black 

Five miles south of Hood sounded in 401 fathoms and after dark 
sent down the small Petersen and a metre net to 200 fathoms. Got 
a huge transparent Isopod, Cystosoma, alive and perfect. In a half- 
metre net towed at the surface at the same time, we took five hun- 
dred Myctophids, mostly M. affi,nis. 

Earlier in the afternoon a metre net caught a beautiful mass of 
small colored medusae, stalk-eyed shrimps, and radiating, higlily col- 
ored radiolarians. 

John Tee- Van was sitting in front of the big aquarium this even- 
ing when the glass broke and deluged him with fish and water. 

Noon position: Lat. 1° 00' S: Long. 89° 41' W. 

April 22nd. A grey day with the Arcturus doing some reminiscent 
rolls. Now and then we clutch at things and brace our feet in almost 
Atlantic style. Thirty-three miles south of Hood sounded in 1820 
fathoms, then ran a line of thermometers to 3000 metres, where we 
found 36.5° F. The instruments were icy and the water-bottles frosted. 

Put out a Petersen and a metre net at 1200 fathoms, an otter trawl 
and a metre net at 800 fathoms and a metre net at 400, taking two 
hours. We wallowed badly, but after towing for two hours, and 
consuming two hours to bring in the cable again, found everything in 
good shape except the otter trawl, which was all wound up on the 
main cable. The haul as a whole was excellent and there were many 
new fish. 

Noon position: Lat. 2° 00' S: Long. 89° 37' W. 

April 23rd. There being no signs of the Humboldt Current yester- 
day, we went slow on both engines all night to the south, and sounded 
this morning at 5:30 in 1835 fathoms. Then we took six temperatures 
down to 500 metres. 

The drift to the east last night was almost nil, as compared with 
that the preceding night, which was strong to the northwest. This 
shows either that the cold Humboldt Current has been driven far to 
the southward, or it is temporarily overlaid by the Panama Equa- 
torial Current. 

Swell continues, sky is overcast, with at least three rain squalls in 
sight to the southward. A shearwater flew on board at 4 a. m. 


At 9 a. m. sent down Petersen and metre net to 500 metres, a 
second metre net to 300, and a third to 100 metres. In the second 
and third nets were masses of the pale salmon-pink shrimp and 
copepod plankton which we get at the surface every evening, but 
no Myctopliids. Cyclothone, and Vinciguerrm were the dominant fish, 
and there were also many larval forms of several unidentified species. 

In afternoon put half-metre net on end of a Petersen and sent 
down to 800 fathoms. Complete failure, only a little plankton and 
one black Cyclothone resulting. 

A petrel flew aboard at 8 p. m. 

Noon position; Lat. 2° 33' S: Long. 89° 44' W. 

Three or four tow's in evening at surface. First brought in twenty 
Myctophids, but at 9 p. m. there were none in net. A dozen tiny, 
elongated fish larvae were taken, one of which had been swallowed by 
a Sagitta. Holocentrus larvae taken, and some Leptocephalus, three of 
which were enormous. 

April 24th. All day spent putting down, towing and bringing up 
bottom dredge, and at 4 p. m. when it reached the deck, it was opened 
and its contents studied. 

Noon position: Lat. 1° 44' S: Long. 89° 39' W. 

April 25th. Bottom dredge down this morning in two miles of 
water, and recovered it before noon. It contained a vast heap of 
sea-cucumbers, icy-cold from the depths, and not much else. Steamed 
north for Hood as soon as the dredge came in. Found a tremendous 
surf beating on southeast side, and went round to northwest, where all 
swells and rough water ceased. Anchored in twenty-one fathoms in 
Gardner Bay, one of the loveliest spots in the Galapagos. A long 
sand-beach was a favorite sunning place for sea-lions, and hundreds of 
doves fluttered along shore. Saw black hawk, many mockingbirds, 
and a few finches. 

Small boats were quickly put over, and everyone scattered to ex- 
plore, collect and fish. In the evening the spot-light beside the lowered 
gangway attracted large, gorgeously colored flyingfish by hundreds, 
whizzing out of the water like bullets, striking with a crash against 
the side of the ship, falling on the main deck, and filling the boats 
that were moored to the boom. The bottom of the gangway was 
really quite a perilous post, as a fifteen-inch fish going full tilt 
through the air is a missile not to be despised. There were also half- 
beaks and pipefish, and many smaller species, which we scooped up 
with nets, and found to be most interesting, but difficult of identifi- 
cation. Sea-lions were at the edge of the circle of light, occasionally 
rushing into view to seize a fish from the numbers milling about the 

April 26th. Diving-helmet in action again, in the lee of Gardner 
island. Found water slightly colder here. Brought up many rocks 
from the bottom, for their covering of invertebrates, and later found 
Balanoglossus and a host of worms and crabs. In one spot, small. 


pale green sea-urchins were dotted everywhere, so that it was not 
possible to sit on any stone, and in another place plucked six large 
holothurians. Three or four sharks came around to look at us, but 
except for a baby, about two feet long, that played with the end of 
the harpoon, none of them showed any disposition to molest us. Sea- 
lions once or twice gave us a start, as they shot down from the sur- 
face to look more closely at us. 

On Gardner there were finches singing, doves were abundant, and 
mockingbirds as tame as usual. Saw some of the Tropidurus lizards, 
which seem larger here than elsewhere in the group, and with more 
yellow in the markings, such as a line down the back. Three Am- 
blyrhynchus caught are much more reddish than any we have seen on 
other islands. 

Scattered about were small greenish rain pools deep among the 
rocks, and in them were countless Branchipus and big ostracods. 
On Hood Island much fresh water was found, one pond a half-mile 
in length being seen. Fresh-water crustaceans were collected, in- 
cluding Apus. Insects were numerous, and Serge got a good many 
grubs and caterpillars. There were many goat skeletons, and one of 
the sailors shot a large male. 

Attempted to use the small dredge from one of the motor-launches, 
but found the bottom of the bay too irregular to make it possible, as 
it is heaped with lava almost as thickly as is the land. 

This evening flyingfish were again with us in flocks, and dozens of 
the green Calosoma beetles flew across the mile of water to the 
ship. Very few moths came. A twenty-minute plankton haul from 
a motorboat brought in a greyish pink mass of copepods, megalops, 
ctcnophores, siphonophores, doliolum, sagitta?, pteropods, lucifers, 
schizopods, radiolarians and stalk-eyed shrimps, — quite a pelagic haul. 
This emphasizes the excellence of this place as a site for a year's in- 
tensive study. 

April 27th. Exploring party to small, nameless island in bay, 
which is now named Osborn Island. 

April 28th. Another party to albatross rookery brought back two 
adult birds alive for the Zoological Park. Another small island ex- 

As coal and water are getting low, we start toward Panama to- 

April 29th. Took sounding and temperatures this morning. The 
sounding wire broke and lost over a thousand feet of wire. Petersen 
sent down to 800 fathoms, a metre net to 400 fathoms. In the 
Petersen were large maroon Medusae, with very long tentacles, huge 
scarlet shrimps, and some medium-sized ones, a small Melamphaes 
nigrofulous, and some pink sagittas. 

The metre net held Oneirodes, Melamphaes, another mucous-headed 
fish, and small shrimps, a few worms, a very large scarlet ctenophore. 



























K O 

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K O 











isopods, copepods and sagittae. The dominant color of all the in- 
vertebrates was red. 

Many flyingfish to-day, but none of the huge ones that were so 
plentiful in Gardner Bay. 

We are now looking for the Current Rip. 

Noon position: Lat. 0° 02' N: Long. 88° 23' W. 

April 30th. A placid sea, and a very warm day. No Current Rip, 
to be found so far, and as we have twice crossed its former path 
it has apparently passed out of existence. 

Noon position: Lat. 2° 47' N: Long. 87° 16' W. 

May 1st. Our one remaining ice-box seems to be dying, so that 
we drink tepid water, and several hundred pounds of meat are in 
peril. The Rip is lost, and the Captain thinks the wisest plan is 
to run straight for Panama for repairs to ice-plant, lights, launches 
and all. 

Two wonderful hauls to-day, in which we obtained for the first time 
the Gasteropelecus which adorns our house-flag, as well as the largest 
example we have ever caught of ChauUodus, about ten inches long. 

Noon position: Lat. 3° 57' N: Long. 86° 48' "W. 

May 2nd. Sea like a sheet of glass, and we are going full speed 
for Cape Mala. Two big turtles, and an olive-footed booby sitting 
on a small log passed at 11 a. ra. Under the log hundreds of fish 
were swimming. During the day a large petrel passed close to the 
ship, swimming quite fearlessly. Saw three sea-snakes, and many logs 
with attendant schools of fish, and caught a small Coryphaena from 
the boom-walk. As it was pulled in, several larger ones followed it 
hungrily. A four-foot Pyrosoma and a shark were the only other 
creatures seen, except flyingfish. 

At 1 p. m. sounded in 1690 fathoms, and made a successful haul. 

Noon position: Lat. 4° 52' N: Long. 84° 42' W. 

May 3rd. An incredibly smooth sea, with abundance of life, — fly- 
ingfish, great schools of tunny and dolphins, many white boobies and 
shearwaters, extensive patches of dark brown, sponge-like alga?, 
porpita, and so on. At 10 a. m. an eastern cliff-swallow came aboard, 
and for several hours a large-billed water-thrush was on the ship. 
(Location 5° 47' N., 82° 58' W.) 

The albatrosses are feeding from our hands as though they had 
always eaten that way, and allow us to pet and stroke them. They 
stand up most of the time, drink nothing, but enjoy a thorough spray- 
ing every morning. Now and then they go through a portion of the 
dance, clattering their beaks, or bowing, or raising their heads straight 

A half-hour metre net at the surface at 8 p. m. yielded blue Cope- 
pods, and scanty grey-pink plankton, many small Porpita and an 
amazing number of small fish. Two large Myctophids, several small 
ones, a wonderful copper-and-silver round fish with enormously elon- 


gated spines, and a tiny creature like a swordfish with two pale-blue 
spots in the back, besides brilliant flyingfish of several species, 
a half-beak with pectorals as long as a flyingfish, many small Cory- 
pha?nap, and so on. Also six tiny squids, and sagittae, Halobates, 

Noon position: Lat. 5° 49' N: Long. 82° 46' W. 

May 4th. Crossing Panama Bay all day. Busily cleaning laboratory 
in preparation for many visitors expected when we dock. The place 
looks unholily neat. 

Noon position: Lat. 7° 13' N: Long. 80° 20' W. 

May 5th. Reached Balboa at 8 a. m. and tied up to Pier 16. Spent 
five days preparing for another six weeks in the Pacific. Find from 
our letters and newspaper clippings that we were lost to the world 
for ten days, but as we did not know it, we were not worried. We 
did realize that we could not pick up any wireless station, nor even 
relay through another ship, but did not think anyone would be excited 
about it. 

May 10th. Left Balboa wharf about 2 a. m., and anchored down 
the bay. Two essential firemen had deserted, so we removed temp- 
tation from the rest by lying well away from shore while the agent 
rounded up substitutes. These were dragged aboard at 6:30 in the 
evening, and we started for Cocos Island. Four submarines steamed 
past us, homeward bound under a golden sky. 

May 11th. A grey day, passing the Panama coast, with its jungle- 
clad mountains. Tide rips and heavy swells about Cape Marlato. 
Water rich in life, great schools of mackerel leaping, and feeding on 
smaller fish, while hundreds of shearwaters circle low and swiftly just 
above the water. Caught a twenty-two pound tunny on spoon from 

Dragged a meter net at 8 p. m. and got about twenty Myctophids, 
many small jellies, numerous Phyllosoma, and a fair amount of pale 
pink plankton. A pail in the end of a small otter trawl caught noth- 
ing. The fish in meter net were 7 Mycfophum laternafum, 11 Mycto- 
phum affinis, 3 Myctophum coccoi, 2 Myctophum hv/mboldti, 5 larval 
fish, 2 large Leptocephalus (135 and 200 mm. long) and 2 small 

Noon position: Lat. 7° 10' N: Long. 80° 18' W. 

May 12th. Calm as a mirror, with a circle of blue-black rain-clouds 
around the horizon before sunrise and lines of rain showing here 
and there. 

In evening attempted to make four fifteen-minute hauls with meter 
net from 6 to 7 p. m., but had to stop after second one because of 
the mass of Ctenophores (Mnemiopsis) which filled the nets with gal- 
lons of almost solid jelly. Only two or three very small fish in the 
mass. At this time we passed a small current rip running north and 


south, and perhaps the abundance of jellies was connected with this. 

At 8:30 p. m. ran out otter trawl with half- meter net attached and 
secured about the same forms as in metre nets at 8 and 9 o'clock. 
A hundred or more Myctophids, almost all two inches or more in 
length, and the majority Lampanyctus macropterum, a form new to 
the Pacific, seven giant Leptocephal^is, and two wonderful Scopeloids, 
with large teeth, long barbels and the dark brown skin covered with 
small light-organs. 

Noon position: Lat. 6° 33' N: Long. 82° 43' W. 

May 13th. Station 66. Successful hauls with a Petersen at 600, 
and three metre nets at 600, 500, and 300 fathoms. From the Peter- 
sen we obtained: 

1 Stomias colubrinus (145 mm.), 4 Melamphaes mizolepis, 1 Melam- 
phaes nigrescens, and 2 Lampanyctus macropterum. 

The metre net at the same depth yielded Lampanyctus oculeum, and 
the 300 fathom net brought in several Vinciguerria lucetia. 

Worked hard on yesterday's material, and in evening surface haul 
(8 p. m.) got almost no fish, only 2 Myctophum coccoi, I large Lep- 
tocophalus and 2 Lampanyctus macropterum. 

Noon position: Lat. 6° 25' N: Long. 85° 06' W. 

May 14th. The following is a list of fish caught in a typical Pacific 
haul, the list belonging properly to future technical papers. Sound- 
ings and temperatures at daylight. Half-hour haul at 5 a. m. yielded 
large numbers of Halobates and pale pink plankton. The fish were: 

4 Myctophum coccoi. 

1 halfbeak. 

2 young Coryphaena. 

1 small Coryphaena-like, dark-finned fish. 
1 yellow-banded flyingfish. 
1 oval four-banded fish. 

From 9 to 11 a. m. towed a Petersen and four metre nets, with 
following results: 

Metre net at 300 fathoms. 

Numerous Vinciguerria and small white Cyclothones. These resem- 
ble each other and form a semi-transparent white zone of fish. 
Metre net at 400 fathoms. 

400 white Cyclothones. 

200 black Cyclothones. 

Numerous small Myctophum laternatum. 

1 very elongate long-barbeled fish. 

Large white transparent Octopus, with two circles of light-or- 
gans around eyes. 
Metre net at 500 fathoms. 

Net torn, contained only one white Cyclothone. 
Metre net at 600 fathoms. 

1 seven-inch Chauliodus sloanei. 


1 large silver eel. 
1 Nemichthys. 
1 Melamphaes. 
1 Stylophthalmus. 
1 Melamphaes mizolepis. 
Petersen at 600 fathoms. 

1 small white fish, with enormously elongated thread pectorals. 

1 long-jawed Leptocephalus. 

2 Melamphaes tiigrofulvus, one with stomach distended by huge 

1 Idlacanthus antrostomus. 
1 65 mm. Chauliodus sloanei. 
1 Melamphaes m^izolepis. 
1 Melamphaes megalops. 
1 70 mm. Stomias. 
300 black Cyclothones. 
25 white Clyclothones. 
Cocos sighted before noon but we are roaming around in the vicinity 
to-night and will seek anchorage at dawn. "A bold coast," says the 
Captain and prefers daylight by which to verify what the charts say 
about Chatham Bay. 

Dozens of small tunny escorted us all day but refused to take a 

Noon position: Lat. 6° 16' N: Long. 86° 46' W. 

May 15th. A wonderful sight at seven this morning. Hundreds of 
porpoises leaping around the ship, boobies flapping in the rigging, a 
rainbow arching before us, where Cocos lay sombrely under heavy 
rainclouds, with snow-white terns silhouetted against its gloomy shores. 
Mad attempts to harpoon a porpoise resulted only in much exercise 
for everyone, including the porpoise. 

Anchored in Chatham Bay and everyone seized handfuls of bis- 
cuits and rushed ashore, ignoring luncheon. Found the island a mass 
of tangled vegetation, the only clear space being the narrow strip of 
beach. Even the hill nearest the sea, that from the deck seemed to 
be covered by a smooth lawn, proved to be overgrown with tall sharp- 
edged grass, in which it would have been easy to lose oneself except 
for the slope of the ground sea-ward. So high and tough and closely- 
matted is this growth that the easiest way to progress is by falling 
through it, literally pitching forward and so pressing down a sort of 
trail, along which it is possible to flounder. The feeling is that of 
wading through a gigantic haymow. 

The crew were swimming in the bay; the dynamiting party acquired 
new species of fish from the reefs by explosive methods, while others 
investigated the shore and river, seeking for insects, birds and water- 

The only signs of man were the names carved on the boulders in 
the river-mouth, and on top of the hill a few rotted boards, pieces of 
corrugated iron, and ancient hand-cuff's. 

Everyone on board for dinner, much lacerated as to arms and legs. 


May 16th. Another busy day for everyone, diving, Ashing, collect- 
ing and exploring. 

May 17th. All-day rain. Mucu diving done in the morning, a 
rather dismal proceeding when you emerge into a drizzle and sit 
damply in already soaked bathing-suit. The wonderful coral reefs 
were reward enough, however. At one spot they were all in the shapes 
of Gargantuan mushrooms, with bright fishes floating in and out 
around them. 

In the evening we were invaded by hundreds of boobies, who 
seemed to find the lighted ship more attractive than the wetness of 
the island. They crashed aboard, rushed into laboratory and cabins, 
screaming and flapping. It was a chaotic scene, as we dodged the 
broad flailing wings and sharp beaks, and threw them, hissing like 
angry geese, over the rail, only to have them return a few seconds 
later. The small boats, tied to the boom, were full of them, so was 
the rigging, and they squawked and blundered all over the decks, 
ejecting large fish from their crops in their excitement. Then a heavy 
squall came up, with sheets of rain, dashing spraj', loose boats and 
frantic birds, — the wind blowing half a gale and the sailors shout- 
ing as they hoisted the boats on deck and made everything fast. It 
was a turbulent night. 

May 19th. At daylight found that the Albatross launch was gone; 
she had been anchored in the bay as a convenience for diving, and 
must have chafed through her moorings and drifted away. One of 
our two diving-helmets was on board. The first ofBcer went off in 
the Pawnee, the other launch, to search for her, and one squall after 
another kept us worrying about him until he finally returned late in 
the afternoon minus the Albatross. 

May 20th. Not a drop of rain all day, wonderful to relate. Half 
a dozen dynamite charges have proved the most productive methods of 
getting new species of fish at this place and there follows a more or 
less typical list of one day's results: 

10 Dermatolepis, IVa to 2 feet long. 
5 Caranx melampygus. 
2 Barred-fin Surgeonfish. 

1 White-tailed Surgeonfish. 

2 Pufl'ers (one yellow, the other black-and-white). 

12 Evoplites viridis. 

104 Pomacentrus arcifrons. 
14 Paranthias furcifer. 
4 Pachygnathus capistratua. 
8 Lutianus jordani. 
4 Holocentrus suborbitalis. 

13 large Myripristis murdjan. 
23 small Myripristis murdjan. 

1 Zanclus canescens. 

1 Chcetodon Nigrirostris. 

1 Ostracion sp. 


May 21st. Another day of fishing and diving, with tubs of fish to 
identify and preserve as a result. Exploring party to Wafer Bay, 
where are the remnants of the settlement that August Gissler had 
here. Attempts made to harpoon giant rays from the Pawnee launch, 
but the rays always vanish by the time the launch and gear go in 

May 22nd. Everyone ashore to collect at low tide. Got several 
tiny morays and two species of ThaUasoma, as well as parrotfishes, 
Moorish Idols, puffers and a small trunkfish. Crabs are abundant and 
varied, but almost no sea-anemones and few sponges. Shrimps com- 
mon and many curious clicking shrimps. More diving and more dy- 
namited fish. In the evening one of the deck-hands harpooned two 
sharks from a small boat tied to the boom. One was Carcharias 
platyrhynchus, about six feet long, the other a four-foot C. galapa- 
gensis. The first had eaten one Lutianus jordani and two Paranthias 
furcifer; the second one Paranthias and two Pomacentrus, — but they 
were all dead fish which we had thrown overboard. 

May 23rd. Cloudy, squally day, water very rough. Collecting and 
seining on beach and in river. Got about three pailsful of sandfish at 
the mouth of the river, and up the stream captured over a hundred 
gobies of several species. There were very few of these latter in the 
quiet side pools, but many in the swift-rushing main channel. Be- 
sides these there was little life to be found, except small shrimps, 
which were common, and an occasional large-clawed blue crayfish. 

We have seen several rats and caught one, very mangy and thin. 
One wild cat seen on beach, eating dead fish, which was also the food 
of the rats. Three or four large pigs have been shot at by the sailors 
and once we saw a very small one. 

Tremendous rain from four p. m. all the rest of day. 

May 24th. A dank and dismal all-day rain. In the morning man- 
aged to poison some of the tiny tide-pools with copper sulphate and 
so obtained a number of small fishes of kinds that we have vainly 
tried to take with nets. About 2 p. m. got up anchor and steamed 
round north and west sides of island. There are dozens of cascades 
pouring into the sea over high cliffs, bursting from the cover of thick 
woods, and leaping down smooth rocky slides. By the time we were 
off Dampier Head the rain, fog and clouds were so heavy that we 
could not see much. Stood off to southward. 

May 25th. Establishment of Station 74, at 4° 50' N. Lat.: 87° W. 
Long. A hot sun, welcome change after ten days at Cocos. A splendid 
haul in morning with five silk nets and a Petersen, repeated in after- 

Everyone tired from strenuous days on Cocos, and with bruises and 
cuts and sprains to cure. 

May 26th. Vertical hauls all day to-day, to establish controls on 
zones of life. Enough sea to roll the ship about when lying idle. 


May 28th. An otter trawl put down this morning to the bottom. It 
came up wound round the boards at its mouth, but in spite of that 
it contained the first specimen we have captured of the Macrurids. 
It seems strange that we have not had these before, as other expe- 
ditions appear to have taken them very often. 

A deluge of rain from moon to dark. 

May 29th. Two otter trawls on bottom to-day, the first very good, 
the second much better, containing huge black eels, Bathypterois in 
perfect preservation, Macrurids, bat-fishes and the more common deep- 
sea fish, as well as sponges, shrimps and all sorts of invertebrates. 

At 5 p. m. black clouds and a gale of wind preceded a downpour 
which lasted all the evening. 

May 30th. Two good hauls with otter trawls on bottom to-day, 
bringing in batfishes, eels, Macrurids, Brotulids, and starfishes, sponges 
and shrimps by the hundred. 

May 31st. Fair most of the day, showers at night. Lost an otter 
trawl trying to put it over without the crew, as this is their day of 
rest but the scientist knows none. Then put down the coarse bottom 
dredge, and at 2 p. m. started a twenty-four-hour series of plank- 
ton hauls. Put out a surface net every half-hour and left it out thirty 

June 1st. Torrents of rain all day, clearing about 5 p. m. Enor- 
mous amount of specimens and data acquired from twenty-four-hour 
plankton hauls. The bottom dredge brought in a fairly good haul. 

June 2nd. A rather disastrous day on the whole. The 80-foot 
dredge was put over and lost, various nets went wrong, and, two 
Petersen trawls brought in a sum total of one Salpa. Squalls of wind 
and rain and a terrific downpour in evening. At dinner-time a large 
school of blackfish gathered round the ship, so near that we had a 
good chance to see them as they came up to blow. 

June 3rd. A hurricane blew a deluge into the cabins on the wind- 
ward side all night. Everyone busy alternating between shutting the 
doors and gasping for air, and opening them and drowning. A Peter- 
sen and five metre nets down in the morning, and a dredge in the 
afternoon, with good results. As soon as the dredge was in, we 
started for Albemarle and Tagus Cove. All hoping for some sun- 
shine to-morrow. 

June 4th. Grey days and rain-squalls still the rule. Plodding along 
all day without hauls. At 9 p. m. a sounding showed that we had 
gone off the edge of the Cocos plateau very abruptly. 

Noon position: Lat. 3° 53' N: Long. 87" 13' W. 


June 5th. Still cloudy and grey, though no rain. No hauls to-day. 
Thousands of purple tunnies leaping round the ship and refusing to 
be caught as usual. Many shearwaters about, banking and dipping 
their wings. 

Noon position: Lat. 2° 39' N: Long. 88° 31' W. 

June 6th. Raised Abingdon and Bindloe soon after lunch and 
passed the former by moonlight. Anxious eyes fixed volcano-wards 
as we approach Albemarle, but no sign of activity to be seen yet. 
Boobies are with us once more, and one frigatebird, — the first since 

Noon position: Lat. 1° 06' N: Long. 90° W. 

June 7th. Up at 5 a. m. to see the northern point of Albemarle, 
everyone, even the Captain, astonished that we reached there so soon. 
A current evidently picked us up in the night and fairly hurled us 
along, doubling our speed. Far down the central ridge between Mts. 
Whiton and Williams was a column of smoke, the second mountain 
veiled in smoke or heavy mist and two large columns of smoke ascend- 
ing from it. Saw several huge sharks, one apparently helpless, lying 
on its side. 

Dropped anchor in Tagus Cove just before lunch. Fish taking 
bait even before we had come to a standstill. Almost everyone 
ashore, or diving, or photographing, and a busy evening in the labora- 
tory to follow. 

June 8th. Diving in the morning, with penguins, cormorants, sea- 
lions, pelicans and great blue herons all round the boat, watching 
the performance with interest. Not a very good place for diving, as 
all the rocks are black, the water not very clear, and very deep. 
Enthusiastic anglers brought back dozens of huge groupers, and some 
barracutas and mackerel. Then the dynamite squad returned with 
tubs of fish of all sizes, and the deck became a fishy shambles, with 
the scientists identifying and preserving those of interest other than 
gastronomic, and cook and steward frantically cleaning the groupers 
and mackerel for ice-box preservation. 

At the gangway after dark we caught Sphyrcena, Coryphwna, 
Menidia starksii and Hemiramphus saltator. 

June 9th. Up anchor at 8 a. m., and round the northern side of 
Narborough. The most desolate island of them all, it seems, with 
hardly any vegetation, and the lava cliflFs of the shore-line rising to 
long black slopes that lead to the central crater, draped in clouds. 

What we suppose must have been a whale-shark rose alongside the 
ship about noon, floated there for a few seconds and then sank again. 
It must have been almost forty feet long, as Dr. Gregory happened 
to be standing on the bulwark at a spot even with the end of its 
tail, and John Tee-Van was abreast of the head, so it was possible to 
measure the distance. 

Trawling in the afternoon, with good results. 


The volcano is faintly visible to-night, and all day a dim pink glow 
hangs over the spot, reflected in low cloud banks. 
Noon position: Lat. 0° 17' S: Long. 91° 34' W. 

June 10th. Diving in a wonderful place to-day, amidst sea-weed so 
tall and thick it was like a corn-field. The trawls brought in two 
Oneirodes alive, that gave an exhibition of lighting in the dark-room. 
Petersen and metre nets in the afternoon. 

Some one should start tours to this part of the world and adver- 
tise, "Spend the summer on the Equator and keep cool." It is really 
chilly here. 

June 11th. An 18-foot ray harpooned from a small boat this morn- 
ing and it took two hours, three men, four harpoons and a shot-gun 
to land it. Frantic excitement, with boats milling about, shouts and 
shots and scurrying, before the creature was hoisted aboard the 
Arcturus. The deck now looks like a slaughter-house, as the victim 
weighed over a ton, and dissection on such a large scale is very messy. 
A thirty-pound embryo taken from it, in perfect condition. 

Diving and dynamiting proceeding as usual. The following list is 
the result of two discharges: 

25 Holocanthus passer. 
12 Xesurus laticlavius. 
39 Paranthias furcifer — small. 

6 Paranthias furcifer — medium. 
24 Orange-pectoraled Pomacentrus. 

1 Brown Pomacentrus. 
15 Apogon atradorsatus. 

3 Bodianus eclancheri (black). 

1 Bodianus eclancheri (orange and black). 

2 Bodianus diplotania. 

3 Mottled Groupers. 
1 Anisotremus. 

1 Red Epinephetus. 

June 12th. No rain — but no sun. Twenty miles off Narborough, 
to the west. At 6 a. m. sounded in 1900 fathoms, and at 8 a. m. put 
over a Petersen at 1000 fathoms, and five metre nets at 800, 600, 500 
and 400 fathoms. Excellent hauls, including seventeen new species of 
fish. Worked south of Narborough during afternoon, and to-morrow 
go to north of Albemarle. 

Last night a stormy petrel flew on board, — the dark phase of 
Oceanodroma leucorrhea, with no white on the rump. Confused voices 
of seabirds crying through the darkness all night. 

The last piece of ray went overboard to-day and decks scrubbed. 

Noon position: Lat. 0° 47' S: Long. 91° 41' W. 

June 13th. Captain feeling jocose this morning, blew the foghorn 
at dawn and pointed out a tropicbird! Sounded in 1720 fathoms, on 


the equator, Long. 92°. A current rip very strongly marked as far as 
the eye could see, coming out of the strait between Narborough and 
Albemarle from the southeast, and after reaching the northern point 
of Albemarle, curving around to the southwest. This has probably 
something to do with the smooth backwater or eddy north of Nar- 
borough, which we found so full of life. The water to the north of 
the loop was very green and rough, while that to the south was blue 
and smooth. It looked as if the latter were flowing rapidly north- 
ward and pressing against or flowing under the green north water, 
causing the whitecaps to break in a southern direction. Trawled 
through it and make good hauls (Station 87) but there was not the 
surface life to make it as interesting as our first Current Rip. 

Steamed around the northern tip of Albemarle and south toward 
Cape Marshall, running into an immense school of tunnies which were 
jumping eight or ten feet in the air and setting up a line of foam 
like breakers, two or three miles long. Sometimes twenty would be 
leaping in one spot. 

In the evening with no moon, a rough sea (after we passed the 
shelter of the island's lee) and with cloudy skies, we made four enor- 
mous hauls of Myctophum coccoi. There were hundreds of them in 
each net. The estimate of 1437 square feet covered by a half-metre 
net in its course is probably too great by half, as the net is half out 
of water all the time. The speed was slow on both engines. 

Noon position: Lat. 0° 07' S: Long. 91° 49' W. 

June 14th. At breakfast time white spouts sighted, apparently com- 
ing from the sea beyond Cape Marshall. Heavy head wind and cur- 
rent made our approach slow, but little by little we realized the origin 
of the puffing masses that rose from the water. In the two months 
since we were here before, the lava has been working down the slope 
until it reached the steep cliffs of the shore, and here before us were 
nine great cascades of molten rock gushing from the face of the black 
coast, and dropping straight into the sea. Immense columns of steam 
were blown by the strong wind across the land, so that the cataracts 
were not obscured and we could watch huge pieces of the cliffs crum- 
ble under the pressure from behind, crashing outward to release fresh 
torrents of red-hot lava, that spouted lilie water from a culvert. Now 
and then submarine explosions from too-rapidly-cooled lava threw 
great lumps of glowing rocks above the breakers, that hissed and 
turned to steam as they dashed against the scorching shore. 

The sea was choppy with tossing whitecaps; along the coast the 
water was vivid light green, where it was heated by the lava; a line, 
distinct as though painted on a floor, marked the beginning of the 
deep blue, normally cool ocean. So sharp was the demarcation that 
when the Arcturus was within a quarter-mile of land, as near as we 
dared venture, and lying directly across this line, her bow was in 
the green watev at a temperature of 99°, and her stern was in blue 
water which registered 78°. As molten lava reached 3000°, the ocean 
under the cliifs was literally boiling. A sea-lion flung itself in agony 
from the scalding immersion, five times leaping all clear, and then 














seen no more. Shearwaters and frigatebirds stooped through the vapor 
to snatch at fish floating in this gigantic cauldron, and we saw dead 
petrels and shearwaters that had ventured once too often to this 
tempting feast. 

We circled in front of the spectacle all day, while binoculars, 
cameras and paintbrushes were busy. The sea was too rough for the 
launching of a small boat, so no attempt to land could be made. We 
feasted our eyes on the stupendous sight and made every possible 
record, reluctantly convinced by the captain that our impending water 
shortage made it imperative to start for Panama that night. About 
8 p. m. we steamed away, watching the superb color as it receded, 
and longing for more time and further opportunity to study this 
marvellous display. 

Noon position: Lat. 0° 03' S: Long. 91° 12' W. 

June 15th. To-day the steering-gear broke without warning. It may 
be just as well that we left the volcano when we did, as the strong 
onshore wind and current might have driven us into one of those catar- 
acts of molten rock, — and the Arcturus is a wooden ship. Steering with 
the wheel aft as soon as it could be put in commission. Condenser is 
out of order, so no stops for trawling to-day. 

Passed in sight of James, Bindloe, Indefatigable, the Daphnes and 
Eden and at 3 p. m. we passed not far from Tower, to the southward, 
and sadly looked our last at the Galapagos. 

Noon position: Lat. 0° 03' S: Long. 91° 12' W. 

June 16th. A beautiful day, with some showers. A small school of 
real porpoises rolled along, going northwest and barely coming out 
to breathe. 

Steering gear and condenser still out of order. 

In the evening a white-faced petrel, Pelagodroma marina, flew on 
board, and others called plaintively in the distant darkness. Later 
one of the sailors caught a sooty tern. 

This morning saw the last of the large maroon-winged flyingfish which 
are so common around the Galapagos and especially near Hood. In 
the afternoon only the small, clear-winged species seen. 

Noon position: Lat. 1° 40' N; Long. 88° 17' W. 

June 17th. Perfect day, slight swell. Tunnies in numbers acting as 
escorts round the bow, flyingfish numerous, and Pyrosoma being used 
as shelter by little fishes. 

Noon position: Lat. 2° 25' N: Long. 86° 06' W. 

June 18th. Calm day, steaming steadily, except for one evening 
haul from 8:30 to 9:00 p. m., getting many Myctophum coccoi and two 
beautiful Astronesthes. 

Noon position: Lat. 4° 27' N: Long. 83° 44' W. 

June 19th. One evening surface haul again brought in Myctophum 
coccoi, and four Astronesthes, two of which had swallowed a large coccoi 


entire. This feeding habit accounts for their constant presence with the 
schools of Myctophum. 

Noon position: Lat. 6° 10' N: Long. 81° 33' W. 

June 20th. Caught a two-foot Coryphaena on spoon from boom- 
walk while ship was going at full speed. 

Arrived Balboa late at night, to be met by customs launch down the 
harbor and boarded by new recruits. 

Noon position: Lat. 7° 52' N: Long. 79° 43' W. 

June 21st to 26th. Ship undergoing necessary overhauling for con- 
denser and so on, and re-coaling. OflScial calls and dinners, and a day's 
excursion to Taboga Island, where we swam, walked, ate and tried the 
diving helmet but found the water so murky compared to the places 
we had been going down that it was not much use. 

Sailed early on the morning of the 26th, but anchored in the Bay 
to wait for a delinquent fireman. Firemen always seem to exert a 
maleficent influence on our sailing days. At last got under way for 
Puerto Bello, entering the harbor and anchoring about 2:30 p. m. 

Most interesting place, the ruins of the forts, that have been stormed 
so many times, in a surprisingly good state of preservation, with battle- 
ments, sentry-boxes and belfries, sloping ramps by which to drag the 
cannon to the walls, dungeons and barracks, and many cannon, all 

The present town has about three hundred inhabitants, living in 
shaky houses that are mostly built on the fine solid foundations of the 
old buildings. The old barracks or customs house is quite a palatial 
structure, of several stories built in successive arches, roofless now and 
overgrown inside and out with natural window-boxes of bushes and 
flowers. San Bias Indians paddled alongside the Arcturus in dug-outs 
to inspect the ship at close range, and the people of the town proved 
to be a melange of Panamanians, Indians, French half-breeds and a 
Finn who is a sergeant in the American army. 

Aboard at 5 p. m. and out into the Caribbean. 

Noon position: Lat. 9° 37' N: Long. 79° 42' W. 

June 27th. Plowing through a grey sea, with a head wind, foul ship's 
bottom and everything combined to make it look as though we might 
^pend the rest of the summer crossing the Caribbean. Now on our way 
to have another look for the Sargasso Sea, hoping to find a calmer 
Atlantic than we encountered in February. 

Noon position: Lat. 10° 40' N: Long. 78° 56' W. 

June 28th. Bright day, with the ship doing some fairly good nose- 
dives into big seas. From a mile oflF the Panama coast we have been 
passing weed in thousands of small pieces, little of it fresh, but mostly 
dark and discolored. The only signs of life aside from that sheltered 
in the weed are hundreds and thousands of flyingfish, almost all medium 
or srdall, and clear-winged. 

Noon position: Lat. 12° 24' N: Long. 77° 33' W. 


June 29th. Heavy head wind and seas, progress pitifully slow, mak- 
ing about three knots part of the day. From the boom-walk we can 
see the crusted growth of weed and barnacles below the water-line every 
time the ship rolls, and it is wonderful that we make any headway with 
such a handicap. 

Noon position: Lat. 13° 41' N: Long. 77° 06' W. 

June 30th. Same sort of weather. Ship plowing bravely on. We 
seem to be holding our own, anyway, but not much more. Evening 
reading-aloud-with-discussion-parties have become a regular feature. 

Noon position: Lat. 14° 55' N: Long, 76° 08' W. 

July 1st. Calmer to-day, making better time. Sighted Navassa Light 
this evening and passed it soon after midnight, in wonderful moonlight. 
First birds seen, several laughing gulls, a shearwater, and three yellow- 
billed tropicbirds. 

Noon position: Lat. 16° 46' N: Long. 74° 50' W. 

July 2nd. Passing between Cuba and Haiti. A perfect day, mak- 
ing our best speed, which is not a dizzy one. Small amount of weed 
seen, and worked from bow and pulpit collecting it. Three distinct 
species found. In strong contrast with our experience in February and 
March, almost every piece shelters fish and other animals. But all 
the weed showed signs of long submersion, much decay and extensive 
encrustations of dead animal life. 

Passed Cape Maysi Light, eastern point of Cuba, about 7 p. m. 

Noon position: Lat. 19° 24' N: Long, 74° 20' W, 

July 3rd. For two nights there has been a tremendous display of 
sheet lightning, originating in three or four places and illuminating the 
whole sky and sea. 

Perfect weather to-day, while we wound round islands and bays, 
among innumerable shoals and lagoons and lights. The traffic was 
heavy, four or five ships at a time in sight almost all day. Passed 
between Crooked Island and Long Island in the middle of the day. 
They are typical tropical islets of white sand beaches, scattered palms, 
low vegetation on the slopes of dunes, a banded red-and-white light- 
house and a lagoon of the clearest, greenest water imaginable. 

At 8 p. m. made our first haul in a long while, getting quantities of 
weed and many species of small fish. Weed passing all day in very 
small pieces. 

Noon position: Lat. 22° 09' N: Long. 74° 22' W. 

July 4th. Misguided patriots firing guns at dawn. Another lovely 
day. Everyone taking turns in pulpit scooping up weed, of which there 
are many small bits. Several species of fish, and a vast quantity of 
larval ones, which so far we cannot identify. Every fish on our list so 
far, (except of course a few Myctophids taken at night) may be con- 
sidered as being at least indirectly associated with sargassum weed. 


Caught porcupine and triggerfish swimming alone as well as sheltered 
in the weed. 

Noon position: Lat. 24° 03' N: Long. 73° 01' W. 

July 5th. Early in the morning the shaft of the circulating pump 
broke. Shifted to sanitary pump and went ahead at slow speed on both 
engines. Crept along all day, making about two knots. Fortunately the 
Atlantic is wonderfully calm, with gorgeous sunsets and dawns. 

A Coryphaena harpooned from pulpit to-day, stomach crammed with 

Noon position: Lat. 25° 07' N: Long. 71° 36' W. 

July 6th. Half speed all day, with wind and sea against us, while 
repairs are made on pump. Weed passing steadily in small, scattered 

Noon position: Lat. 25° 56' N: Long. 70° 31' W. 

July 7th. Half speed or stopped completely all day. An increase in 
weed to-day, especially in size of pieces, which were rounded heads of 
new, pale, freshly grown sargassum. Trying a new sort of net, which 
caught much weed and many small triggerfish, Xenichthys ringens. 

About 6 p. m. pump-shaft repaired and we started full speed for 30° 
North and 60° West, hoping to find abundance of weed and good 

Noon position: Lat. 25° 54' N: Long. 69° 30' W. 

July 8th. Gregory and Beebe saw a remarkable-looking shark from 
the deck this morning. It was about six feet long and seemed to be 
much more heavily built than the common sharks. It swam so close to 
the surface that its dorsal fin protruded and its color seemed to be 
a pale sage green, with at least half the dorsal and pectoral clear 
white. It swam slowly past, then turned and followed the ship for a 

Noon position: Lat. 26° 45' N: Long. 67° 56' W. 

July 9th. We have lost the trades to-day. Weed more abundant and 
considerable new growth in compact heads. Saw Physalia, several 
Pterophryne, pipefish and triggerfish. Evening tows with half-meter 
net brought in only eight Myctophum coccoi and much weed. 

Noon position: Lat. 27° 51' N: Long. 65° 26' W. 

July 10th. Perfect day, — the sea a mirror before sunrise and only 
lightly ruffled later. Less weed than ever. Two tropicbirds in early 
morning, perhaps our friends who were so persistent in February ! 
Evening tow yielded little. 

Noon position: Lat. 28° 54' N: Long. 62° 50' W. 


July 11th. Arrived at 30° North and 60° West, to make Station 96. 

The weed for to-day was far below the average of last three days. 
One unusual condition was that a large percentage of it was submerged 
quite deeply, appearing in good sized patches and new, but so obscured 
by the water that nothing positive could be asserted of the pieces. 

Reached our chosen spot at 2 p. m. and sounded in 2875 fathoms. 
This is Saturday, but we have declared it to be the crew's Sunday, so 
that they can put in a full day's work to-morrow. 

A fairly calm sea, with practically no weed in sight, and several small 
rain-storms passing close by. Everyone went swimming. 

Noon position: Lat. 29° 53' N: Long. 60° 18' W. 

July 12th. This seems something like a doldrum at last, — a smooth 
blue sea, and scarcely a breath of breeze, and what there is, is hot. 
Put down a Petersen and five meter nets and got less than in one net 
in the Pacific. The best specimens were a small dark brown Sacco- 
pharynx and a two-inch Remora, with many larval characters. 

Noon position: Lat. 30° 01' N: Long. 60° 03' W. 

July 13th. Stopped almost all day for vertical hauls. 
Noon position: Lat. 30° 42' N: Long. 61° 16' W. 

July 14th. Another day of vertical hauls. 

A block came down on John's head, slicing his scalp in three places, 
and Jay ran a rusty spike in his foot, and is now on crutches after 
a tetanus injection. 

Noon position: Lat 31° 22' N: Long. 62° 35' W. 

July 15th. Hard rain last night. Chiriqui's cage blew off the library 
deck and only by a miracle did not go completely overboard. 

Sighted Bermuda this afternoon amid squalls and skirted it during 
dinner. Contrast with approach to one of our Pacific islands is strong, 
— no boobies coming out to meet us, no sea-lions bobbing round us, and 
the only life a few red-billed tropicbirds. 

Towed this evening and got only four small Myctophum coccoi. All 
our observations in the Sargasso Sea show small individuals and few 
species compared to the Pacific fauna. 

Reached the vicinity of Challenger Bank in evening. 

Noon position: Lat. 32° 06' N: Long. 64° 17' W. 

July 16th. Sounded in 25 fathoms, thirteen miles from land, which 
is low on the horizon. Put out a big alcohol drum painted white to 
serve as a guide and anchored it with 60 fathoms of rope. 

Made two fifteen-minute dredges on the bank and both times had the 
nets badly torn. Almost no life but an abundance of large grey gor- 
gonias, and many kinds of algae, such as thick heads, masses of small 
round egg-like forms, a sargassum with flattened berries, flat lettuce 
stuff, pale grey green with purple edges, plume shapes, masses of forms 
like threads, etc. 


Several large hard head sponges, and some slender, hollow, finger- 
shaped ones. In the big sponges were brittle stars only, deserving their 
name as they fell to pieces at a touch. There was one blood-red large 
one and several small scarlet squilla. 

In both dredges we got only two small fish, one of which was a young 
moray eel. 

When we chiselled apart the great solid coral boulders, life was 
found to be more abundant and we captured numbers of creatures, in- 
cluding ascidians, etc. 

We next went to the eastward of the buoy and a mile away still 
found bottom at 28 fathoms; another mile and we got 505 fathoms, and 
put down a Petersen and three metre nets in 300, 400, and 500 fathoms. 
In two and a half hours we got a good haul. 

Echiostoma barbatum was over a foot long, soft and flabby but not 
with the tender skin of the deep-sea forms. It was alive and stayed 
so for several hours while we got movies. The most noticeable charac- 
ter of this otherwise brownisli-black fish was a wedge- or pear-shaped 
light organ of rich rose color below the eye. In the dark this gave 
forth a warm reddish glow. The lateral light organs were all tinged 
with rose. 

One of the strangest creatures of the entire trip was a small jetfish, 
dauIopJn-i/ne jordani, a little rounded brownish black creature, with 
outrageously long dorsal and anal fin rays, and covered from lips to 
tail with fleshy tactile filaments. He was at his last gasp, unfor- 
tunatel}', but we got sketches and photographs. 

In the evening from 8 to 9 p. m. towed two metre nets at 200 and 
300 fathoms, obtaining only a meagre haul but showing an interesting 
elevation of red forms nearer the surface than in the daytime. This 
evening also we captured in one of these nets the deep-sea prawn that 
throws off a cloud of luminescence as a cloak behind which it escape its 

Noon position: Lat. 32° 02' N: Long. 65° W. 

July 17th. Put down eight nets from 100 to 800 fathoms, and got a 
very satisfactory plankton haul, but the fish were almost wholly young 
or immature forms. Sea which kicked up in the afternoon made pull- 
ing in a difficult matter. Started west. 

Noon position: Lat. 31° 57' N: Long. 64° 55' W. 

July 19tk Heavy seas and a staggering wind, with an occasional 
wave coming over the port bow in a smother of spray. Difficulty in 
taking temperatures this morning. 

Noon position: Lat. 33° 14' N: Long. 68° 33' W. 

July 20th. Opposite of yesterday, — smooth blue sea and baking sun. 
Practically no weed, only very small pieces here and there. Several 
hours in pulpit brought in only two pailsful, containing two young 
Pterophryne. Temperature at 6 a. m. showed no signs of Gulf Stream, 
though we must be near the edge. At 1 p. m. put over five metre nets 


at 250, 500, 600, 700 and 800 fathoms, and got a fairly good haul (for 
the Atlantic). As usual most of the Cyclothones and Argyropelecus 
were very young. One splendid large black fish with scores of pink 
body lights, and a very broad mid-side band of bronze and copper ex- 
tending down body from head to tail. 

In the afternoon hooked a six-foot shark, Carcharias milbertt, with 
one shark sucker attached (Remora remora) and many big parasitic 

Noon position: Lat. 34° 19' N: Long. 71° 13' W. 

July 21st. Another wonderful day. A large clear-winged dragonfly 
seen this morning. Five metre nets down to 250, 500, 600, 700 and 800 
fathoms (Station 107) at 1 p. m. 

Wireless from Harrison Williams that he is on board the Warrior 
off Hampton Roads and will meet us to-morrow. At 5 p. m. we 
steamed north, making 10 knots with the wind and Gulf Stream to 
help us. 

Noon position: Lat. 34° 47' N: Long. 73° 41' W. 

July 22nd. At 6 a. m. a densely massed flock of over three hundred 
stormy petrels feeding close by, to starboard. They kept just ahead 
for a hundred yards, and then broke up and drifted astern, only a few 
keeping on with us. 

Rather rough sea with whitecaps. At 7 a. m. we effected a perfect 
meeting with the Warrior, and her passengers, five in number, came 
aboard for lunch and to watch us make a haul with five metre nets. 
Fair results. In the afternoon two of the visitors returned to the 
yacht, but it was so rough that the others stayed on the Arcturiis, and 
we followed the Warrior toward Chesapeake Bay. Big wind and rain 
to-night, foghorn bellowing. 

While passengers were being transferred, a United Fruit Liner 
on the horizon altered her course and passed within a few hundred 
yards of us. Two ships tossing aimessly about, while lifeboats labored 
in the waves, made a picture that evidently required investigation. 

Noon position: Lat. 36° 53' N: Long. 74° 10' W. 

July 23rd. Early this morning the Warrior returned to our side. We 
put down two dredges and obtained one starfish, one clam and a banana 
peel ! Not a rich territory. 

All went aboard the Warrior for lunch, and at 3 p. m. parted, the 
Arcturus headed for Lat. 38°, Long. 74°. 

Noon position: Lat. 36° 56' N: Long. 75° 25' W. 

July 24th. Arrived at our station about 7 a. m. and lowered a 
dredge which evidently did not touch bottom, as it came up with noth- 
ing but several bushels of salpae. The second dredge was lowered to 
500 fathoms, and while being towed, struck something that stopped the 
ship as though she had run aground. When recovered, after much 
manoeuvring, tlie dredge was torn almost off the frame, and was 

I ai OB A. O \f' . 


bulging with what looked like a ton of green mud, into which every- 
one plunged to sort out anemones, starfishes, holothurians, worms, crabs, 
beautiful purple pennatulas. The fish were mostly hakes, with one 
large goosefish, some Scorpaenids and a slender Lycenchelys. 

The dredge stuck because we were pulling against the continental 
slope, beginning at 500 and ending at about 250 fathoms, so that the 
net and frame were buried in bottom mud. 

Now going to the Hudson River Gorge, submerged since the Pleis- 
tocene, where we plan to do some dredging. 

Noon position: Lat. 38° 11' N: Long. 73° 44' W. 

July 25th. Dredging started directly after breakfast. The big dredge 
brought up nothing at all. Then put out five metre nets and got a 
good haul, with Myctophids, Cyclothones, Stomias, Chauliodus, Serrivo- 
mer, Nemichthys, Caulophryne, a blue-eyed flounder, etc. 

The dynamite squad went over in a small boat and used up the last 
charge, under a bit of wreckage, but every fish sank so rapidly after 
the explosion that they could not be recovered. 

At 10 p. m. began a twenty-four-hour haul of half-metre surface nets. 
A few Myctophids, but most of the fish are young hakes. 

During evening tried for fish by lighted gangway. Got squid, a 
snake mackerel, and beautifully marked Nomeus. 

Noon position: Lat. 39° 13' N: Long. 72° 12' "W. 

July 26th. Steamed slowly all day, making the twenty-four-hour 
plankton hauls. A cold grey windy day. 

Noon position: Lat. 39° 26' N; Long. 71° 26' W. 

July 27th. Vertical and closing-net hauls all the morning. Crew 
catching sharks; got three in about half an hour, and we had a steak 
from one for lunch. Very good, not unlike swordfish but tougher 
and not so dry. Crew vastly disgusted at the idea, but cannot ex- 
plain why. 

Nets in the afternoon, with fair results. 

Noon position: Lat. 39° 37' N: Long. 71° 40' W. 

July 28th. Calm and fine. Made a deep haul this morning and an- 
other this afternoon. Every net bulging with quantities of salpae, but 
in the mass of jelly, when floated out in tubs and dishes, were some 
interesting fish, — Caulophryne, Serrivomer, Melamphces, Oneirodes and 
many very large Cyclothones. 

Many dolphins leaping in the middle distance, and we have seen 
blackfish and tunnies. This morning a spearfish, six or eight feet long, 
swam close under the boom, where the trolling line was trailing, and 
once even took the spoon in its mouth, but was not hooked. 

Noon position: Lat. 39° 16' N: Long. 71° 40' W. 

July 29th. A day of dismantling, packing, and concentrated industry. 
Noon position: Lat. 39° 43' N: Long. 72' 15' W. 


July 30th. Arrived in the lower bay at dawn, and proceeded to 
berth at 81st Street and North River (Fig. 68). Every ship on the 
way saluted us, from garbage scows to big liners, and as courtesy 
required that we answer every blast, we had barely steam enough to 
creep up to the pier. 




OsBORN Island, in honor of Prof. Henry Fairfield Osborn, is 
the name I have given to the larger of two islands lying between 
Hood and Gardner. While I plan later to publish the details 
of my study of the fauna of this interesting island, I here offer 
an annotated list of what I believe is its complete avifauna at 
the time of my visit, with notes on other groups. I spent four 
hours on the island in the forenoon of April 27th, 1925. The 
configuration of the island is such that a complete census was 
possible in this very brief time. Of the birds, there were 17 
species, represented by 67 individuals. 


1 Diomedea irrorata Salvin 

Galapagos Albatross 

Five of these flew so close to the island that they passed 
over the rocky promontory where the sea-lions were 

2 Sula nehouxi Milne-Edwards 

Blue-footed Booby 

Two pairs of these birds roosting, and perhaps breeding 
on the ledges of an inaccessible part of the cliff. 

3 Sula piscatrix xcehsteri Rothsch. 

Red-footed Booby 

Three birds flew over and one alighted for a moment 
near the Blue-foots. 



4 Pelecanus fuscus calif ornicus Ridgway 
Galapagos Brown Pelican 
One flying low over island. 

6 Fregata sp. 

Two soaring high over the island. 

6 Creagrus furcatus (Neboux) 

Fork-tailed Gull 

Four pairs nesting on cliffs on west side of island. 
Several nestlings seen. 

7 Blasipus fuliginosus (Gould) 

Lava Gull 

Three walking about on the beach. 

8 Anous stolidus (Linne) 

Noddy Tern 

Several pairs nesting on ledges and others flying about. 

9 Butorides sundevalU Reichenow 

Galapagos Green Heron 

A single individual catching flies near the shore. 

10 Nesopelia g. galapagoensis (Gould) 

Galapagos Dove 

Three pairs on the island, one of which soon flew to 
Gardner. Collected one of the others in a butterfly 
net as it walked up within a yard of me. It was a 
breeding female. One pair kept flying to a consider- 
able height above the island and then soaring slowly to 
the ground, — quite an undovelike manoeuvre. 

11 Buteo galapagensis (Gould) 

Galapagos Hawk 

One bird soaring overhead. 

12 Eribates magnirostris (Gray) 

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 

Two followed me about the island, all but alighting 
on my shoulder, and showing great interest whenever I 
turned over a stone in my search for geckos. 


13 Certhidea cinerascens Ridgway 

Gray Certhidea 

Two pairs nesting on the island, one on each side of 
the central ridge. The first nest was complete, two 
feet from the ground, large and globular, and contained 
a single egg. I shot the female and collected the nest, 
as the egg of this species is still undescribed. The 
second pair was still building, the nest almost completed 
and composed wholly of moss. Both males were singing, 
and although quite out of sight of one another, the 
songs alternated, the one on the east of the ridge wait- 
ing until the song of the bird on the other side was 
ended. The song was of the simplest, a sibilent Sip-sip- 
sip-sip — chew — chew — chew! 

14 Dendroica petechia aureola (Gould) 

Galapagos Yellow Warbler 

One of these warblers hopped about the bushes near 
me for a while and then flew away in the direction of 

15 Geospiza conirostris Ridgway 

Conebilled Ground Finch 

Two pairs on the island, one nesting. There were two 
nests, one old, evidently last year's, and one just finished. 
Both males were singing from the top of a bush or 
cactus, and taking short flights between songs, often 
followed by the females. The notes were of the simp- 
lest, but given with great impetus, in a hoarse voice, 
Chuckel-low! The eggs of this species are also un- 
known, but the nest was empty. 

16 Geospiza fuliginosa Gould 

Sooty Ground Finch 

There were five pairs on the island, two building nests, 
one with a full-grown young, stuffing it with small, 
green measuring worms, which had almost defoliated 


the bursera trees. I shot the male of a pair wandering 
through the underbrush. Its mate saw it fall, looked 
at it for a moment, and then went on searching for 
food. The song bore a remarkable resemblance to that 
of the Certhidea. It may be written, Sip-sip-sip-sip — 
seep — seep — seep! the first four syllables uttered very 

17 Nesomimus macdonaldi Ridgway 
Hood Island Mockingbird 

One individual, perched on a shrub, flew off before I 
could approach closely. 


Phyllodactylus bauri Garman 
Hood Island Gecko 

Collected four and saw three others. All were under stones, 
and with each was a little pile of the elytra of the beetle 

Tropidurus delanonis Baur 
Hood Island Lizard 

At least eight of these large lizards seen running over the 
ground. All had an unusual amount of red on the body, 
and a small one which I collected was almost wholly of this 

Amblyrhynchus cristatus Bell 
Marine Iguana 

Saw three medium-sized specimens, all with a great deal of 
brick color on the scales. 

Otaria jubata (Gmelin) 

Southern Sea-lion 

About a dozen in the cave, and sixteen basking at one time 
on the rocky, southeast peninsula. All of this latter group 
were affected with conjunctivitis, some of the pups being 
quite blind. 




3 9 Sargassum Weed — Sargassum bacciferum (Turn.) 

A number of other closely related species or 
varieties are also recognized. 
10 9 Yellow-billed Tropicbird — Pha'ethon americanus 

15 4 Atlantic Tunnyfish — Gymnosarda alleterata 

Atlantic Dolphin — Delphinus sp. 
Columbus' Crab — Planes minutus (Linne) 
Hydroids — Plumularia, Aglaophenia, etc. 
Bryozoans — Membranipora and Flustra sp. 
Pterophryne histrio (Linne) 
Leptocephalus Anguillce chrysypa Rafin. 
Leptocephalus Anguilloe vulgaris Turt. 
Stalk-eyed Fish — Stylophthalmus sp. 
Astronesthes niger Rich. 
Oneirodes sp. 

Myctophids — chiefly Myctophum coccoi (Cocco) 
Robin — Planesticus m. migratorius (Linne) 
Kittiwake — R'lssa t. tridactyla (Linne) 
Dorado — Coryphcena hippurus Linne 
Boobies — Sula cyanops (Sunde.) and Sula brew- 
steri Goss 
45 3 Stormy Petrels — chiefly Oceanodroma tethys 


































Red-billed Tropicbirds — Phaethon cethereus 

Frigatebirds — Fregata sp. 

Northern Phalaropes — Lobipes lohatus (Linne) 
Dolphins — Lagenorhynchus obliquidens Gray 
Triggerfish — Pachygnathus capistratus (Shaw) 
Blennies — Hypsoblennius brevipinnis (Giinther) 
Olive-grey and Maroon Crabs — Plagusia im- 

maculata Lamarck 
Porcelain Blue Crab — Planes minutus (Linne) 
Dark Chocolate Crab — Planes minutus (Linne) 
Sea-worms — Amphinome vagans (Savig.) 
Pilotfish — Naucrates ductor Linne 
Shark Suckers — Remora sp. 
Sea-snake — Hydrus platurus (Linne) 
Goose Barnacles — Conchoderma virgatum Speng. 
Purple Snail — lanthina sp. 
Floating Snail — Glaucus pacificus Esch. 
P or pita pacifica Lesson 
White Flyingfish — Exonautes sp. 
Water-Strider — Halobates sp. 
Amber-jack — Seriola sp. 

Squids — Symplectoteuthis oualaniensis (Lesson) 
White-winged Flyingfish — Exonautes sp. 
Wine-colored Pelagic Crabs — Euphylax dovii 

Half-beaks — Hemiramphus saltator G and S 
Silver Hatchet Fish — Argyropelecus sp. 
Sea Turtles — Chelone mydas (Linne) 
Triggerfish — Pachygnathus capistratus (Shaw) 
Hammerhead Shark — Cestracion sp. 
Green-footed Booby — Sula brewsteri (Goss) 
Paper Nautilus — Argonauta hians Solander 
Red-footed Boobies — Sula piscatrix websteri 














































































71 3 Olive-green Grouper — Mycteroperca olfax 

83 22 Scarlet Snapper — Paranthias furcifer (Cuv. and 

Green Grouper — Mycteroperca olfax (Jenyns) 
White-tailed Demoiselle — Pomacentrus leucorus 

Yellow-tailed Surgeonfish — Xesurus laticlaviua 

Blue-lined Snapper — Evoplites viridis (Valen.) 
Pomacentrus leucorus Gilbert and P. arcifrons H 

and S 
94 23 White-striped Angelfish — Holocanthus passer 

96 8 Yellow-tailed Surgeons — Xesurus laiiclavius 

Galapagos Shark — Carcharias galapagensis S 

and H 
Galapagos Albatrosses — Diomedea irrorata Salvin 
Plain-winged Flying-fish — Cypselurus bahiensis 

106 31 Spotted-winged Flyingfish — Cypselurus callop- 

terus (Giinther) 
Galapagos Sea-lion — Otaria jubata (Gmelin) 
Dolphins — Lagenorhynchus obliquidens Gray 
Apus — Apus cequalis Packard 
Branchipus — Dendrocephalus cervicornis 
Black Finches — Geospiza sp. 
Hood Island Mockingbirds — Nesomimus mae- 

donaldi Ridgway 
Olive-footed Boobies — Sula variegata 
Frigatebirds — Fregata sp. 

Galapagos Gulls — Creagrus furcatus (Neboux) 
Shearwaters — Puffinus obscurus subalaris Ridg. 
Golden Grouper — Mycteroperca olfax (Jenyns) 
Devilfish — Manta hamiltoni Newman 
































Black Grouper — Mycteroperca olfax (Jenyns) 
Yellow Butterflies — Callidryas eubule Linne 
Devilfish — Manta hamiltoni Newman 
Giant Sunfish — Mola mola Linne 
Tunnies — Gymnosarda pelamis (Linne) 
Shearwaters — Puffinus sp. 
Spanish Mackerel — Scomber colias Gmelin 
Hieroglyphic Fish — Cirrhitus rivulatus Valen. 
Fork-tailed Gull — Creagrus furcatus (Neboux) 
Sea-lions — Otaria jubata Gmelin 
Black Lizard — Amblyrhynchus cristatus Bell 
Sand Lizards — Tropidurus delanonis Baur 
Small-billed Finch — Geospiza fuliginosa Gould 
Red Centipede — Scolopendra galapagoensis Boll- 
Gecko — Phyllodactylus bauri Garman 
Hawk — Buteo galapagensis (Gould) 
Noddy Terns — Anous stolidus galapagensis 

Dove — Nesopelia galapagoensis (Gould) 
Giant Groupers — Mycteroperca olfaa: (Jenyns) 
Golden Grouper — Mycteroperca olfax (Jenyns) 
Southern Sea-lion — Otaria jubata Gmelin 
Flightless Cormorants — Nannopterum harrisi 
177 27 Scarlet Sea Bass — Paranthias furcifer (Cuv. and 
Galapagos Snappers — Xenocys jessice J and B 
Sea Turtle — Chelone my das (Linne) 
Galapagos Penguins — Spheniscus mendiculus 

Xesurus laticlavius (Valen.) 

Grey Sharks — Carcharias galapageTisis S and H 
Pigfish — Orthopristis forbesi J and S 
Arrow-like Flying Snails — Clio sp. 
200 9 Nautilus-like Flying Snails — Limacina sp. 


























































































































Oyster-like Flying Snails — Cavolinia sp. 
Paper Nautilus — Argonauta hians Solander 
Giant Sunfish — Mola mola Linne 
Devilfish — Mania hamiltoni Newman 
Tunnyfish — Gyvmosarda sp. 
Half-beaks — H emiramphus sp. 
Pilotfish — Naucrat.^s ductor Linne 
White Terns — Gygis alba Candida (Gmelin) 
Wandering Tattler — Heteroscelus incanus (Gme- 
Lava Gull — Blasipus fuliginosus (Gould) 
Yellow Warbler — Dendroica petechia aureola 

Cocos Cuckoo — Coccyzus ferrugineus Gould 
Cocos Flycatcher — Nesotriccus ridgzvayi Towns. 
Cocos Finch — Cocornis agassizi Towns. 
Cocos Anolis Lizards — Anolis townsendi Stejn. 
Cocos Crawfish — Macrobrachium olfersi (Wieg. ) 

and M. jamaicensis (Herbit) 
Cocos Fresh-water Gobies — Cotylopus cocoensis 

H and S 
Yellow-legs — Nesoglottis melanoleuca (Gmelin) 
White-finned Shark — Carcharias platyrhynchus 

Tiger Shark — Galeocerdo arcticus (Faber) 
Fairy Tern — Gygis alba Candida (Gmelin) 
Yellow-tailed Surgeonfish — Xesurus laticlavius 

Butterflyfish — Pomacanthus zonipectus (Gill) 
White-finned Shark — Carcharias platyrhynchus 

Island Shark — Carcharias galapagensis S and H 
Tiger Shark — Galeocerdo arcticus (Faber) 
Groupers — Mycteroperca olfax (Jenyns) 
Devilfish — Manta hamiltoni Newman 
Black Surgeonfish — Melichthys bispinosiis Gilbert 


























White-striped Angelfish — Holocanthus passer 

Hepatus triostegus (Linne) 
Pachygnathus capistratus (Shaw) 
Moorish Idol — Xanclus cornutus (Linne) 
Parrotfish — Scarus sp. 

Fairy Tern — Gygis alha Candida (Gmelin) 
Red-footed Booby — Sula piscatrix websteri 

White-breasted Booby — Sula hreivsteri Goss 
Lava Gull — Blas'ipus fuliginosus (Gould) 
Noddy Tern — A nous stolidus ridgzvayi Anthony 
Cocos Noddy Tern — Megalopterus minutiis dia- 

mesus H and S 

330 28 Yellow Warbler — Dendroica petechia aureola 


331 23 Sea Turtles — Chelone mydas (Linne) 

332 1 Pacific Dolphins — Lagenorhynchus obliquidens 

332 25 Cocos Brassolid Butter Hy^H is tons orion (Fab- 

354 21 Flying Snails — Pteropods such as Clio and Cavo- 

354 28 Black Octopus — Cirroteuthis sp. 
359 7 Dwarf Sharks — Centroscyllium nigrum Garman 

359 24 Rainbow Snails — Gaza rathbuni Dall 

345 28 Scarlet Luminiscent Shrimp — Pandalus annuli- 
cornis Leach 

360 11 Pelicanfish — Saccopharynx sp. 

360 12 Thread Eel — Nemichthys sp. 

361 13 Anglerfish — Lophius piscatorius Linne 

376 15 Red-iailed Triggerfish — Xanthichthys ringens 


377 21 Stormy Petrels — Oceanites oceanicus (Kuhl) 
379 10 Snake Mackerel — Gempylus sp. 

382 23 Scorpionfish — Helicolenus maderensis G and B 


Albatross, Galapagos, 105 

Courtship of, 113-115 
Gait of. 111 
Amberjack, 62, 63 
Amblyrhynchus, 156, 157 
Amphioxus, 392 
Anemone, pelagic, 59 
Angelfish, white-striped, 89, 94, 

167, 168, 309, 310, 399 
Apus, 108 

Argyropelecus, 65, 390 
Asironestkes, 32, 214, 218 


Bamboo, floating, 69 
Barnacles, goose, 68 

On sea snake, 56-58 
Blackfish, 393 
Blennies, 48, 49, 77, 78 

Rose-colored, 230, 315 
Boobies, 143 

Battle of. 231-233 

Blue-footed, 109 

Green-footed, 68, 221, 

Olive-footed, 109 

Red-footed, 70, 221 
Boom-walk, 21. 22, 26, 47 
Bothus atlanficus, 391 
Branchipus, 108 
Bryozoan, Sarpassum. 19 
Butterfly-fish, 28S-290, 310 

Carangids, 246 

Blue, 305, 306 
Caranx melampygus, 305, 306 
Caulophryne jordani, 422 
Centipedes, 162, 163 
Chatodon, 288-290 

Columbus, 4, 8, 9, 10, 13, 15, 17, 

18. 34, 38, 39, 40 
Conchoderma virgatum, 58 
Copepods, 208 

Cormorants, flightless. 177, 178 
Coryphaena, 38, 63, 64, 67, 68, 393 

E,i,gs of, 62 
Crabs, on floating logs, 49 

Pelagic, 65 
Crayfish, Cocos. 228 
Crustaceans, parasitic, 68 
Cuckoo. Cocos. 227 
Current Rip, 44, 50, 53, 69. 70, 

Cyclops, 208 


Dermatolepis, 314 
Devilfish, 206-208, 304 
Diomedea exuhins. 103 
Diving, method of, 74-77, 80-82 

Outfit, 73. 74 
Dolphins, 15, 16. 17, 46, 221 

Pacific. 108 
Doves, Galapagos, 166 


Echiostoma barbatum, 422 

Eels, 24, 25 

Evoplitcs viridis, 92, 313 

Fauna, current rip, 45, 48, 50, 
51, 58-68 
Deep sea, 339-363 
Sargassum, 8, 18, 19, 22, 
385-387, 388-391 
Fierasfer, 393 
Finch, Cocos, 227 

Small-billed, 162 




Fish, Cocos shore, 316 

Grazing, classification by 

teeth, 309-311 
Hieroglyphic, 150 
Luminous, 215-219 
Stalk-eyed, 31, 390, 392 
Flounder, transparent, 391 
Flycatcher, Cocos, 227 
Flyingfish, 306, 307 

Butterfly, 60, 61, 65 
Giant, 106, 107 
Frigatebirds, 45, 143, 169 

Gangway, 47, 63 

Garfish, 307 

Geckos, 162, 163 

Gissler, August, 251, 252, 257, 

Glaucus, 59 
Globigerina Ooze, 27 
Gobies, 315 

Cocos, 228 
Groupers, 123, 124, 149, 247, 303, 
Golden, 123, 172, 173 
Olive green, 71. 86, 172, 
189, 190 
Gulls, fork-tailed, 165 

Galapagos, 109, 226 
Herring, 385 


Halfbeaks, G5, 211 
Halobates, 03 

Eggs of, 60-62 
Hawk, Cocos, 229 
Hepaius, 310 

Holocanthus passer, 167, 168 
Holothurian, 393 
Hydroids, Sargassum, 19 
Hydrus, 57 

lanthina, 59, 202, 203 
Insects, Cocos, 228, 229, 263 

Jaegers, parasitic, 385 
Jellyfish, purple, 68 

Kittiwake, 34, 387 

Lanternfish, 120, 121, 214 

Slender-tailed, 215- 
Leptocephalus, 22-25, 387 
Lizards, Anolis, 227 
Logs, floating, 47-49, 51-53 


Mackerel, Spanish, 149 
Melicktkys, 310 
Mola mola, 135 
Mydophum, 33, 214 

Coccoi, 215-218 


Nannopterum harrisi, 177, 178 
Nautilus, paper, 68, 203-205, 


Oceanodroma leucorrhea, 415 
Octopus, 95, 96, 142 
Oneirodes, 32, 33 
Ophioblenny, 232 

Pachygnathus, 310 
Parantkias furcifer, 178, 399 
Pelagodroma marina, 417 
Pelicans, 143 
Penguins, 182, 183 
Petrels, stormy, 45, 143 

White-faced, 417 
Phalaropes, northern, 45 
PhyUosoma, 210 
Pigfish, 186, 187 
Pilotfish, 54, 212 
Planes minutus, 18 
Plankton, 50, 199-202 

Component parts of, 
199, 200 
Polynemis, 312, 394 
Pomacant/ui s zonipectits, 310 
Pomacentrids, 315 
Pomacentrus leucorns, 87 
Porpita, 60 
Pterophryne, 20 
Pulpit, bow, 13, 14, 17, 46, 198, 

211, 220 
Pyrosoma, 212 



Radio, 39, 40 
Rat, Cocos, 226 
Remora, 55 
Robin, 34 
Runulus, 314 

Sagitta, 209 

Salpa, 59 

Sappkirina, 209 

Sargasso Sea, 4-40 

Sea-Bass, scarlet, 178 

Sea-Lions, 130, 144, 150-156, 159, 

160, 173, 174 
Sea Snake, 55-58, 67 
Sea- Worms, 49 
Sharks, 53, 54, 58, 70, 96 

Feeding habits of, 186- 

Grey, 184, 185, 302 
Hammerhead, 67, 68 
Tiger, 247, 248, 303 
White-finned, 246, 302 
Shark-suckers, 55, 307 
Shearwaters, 143-144 
Snapper, blue-lined golden, 92 
Galapagos, 179, 180 
Scarlet, 83, 184 
Sounding machine, 26, 27 
Sparrow, 34 
Squid, 64, 65, 205, 206 

Giant, 66, 67 
Sternoptyx, 396 
Stylo phthalmus, 390, 392 
Suckingfish, 207 
Sunfish, giant, 135 
Surgeonfish black, 308 

Black-banded, 309 
Yellow-tailed, 89,184, 
284, 285 

Adaptations of yel- 
Swimming, mid-ocean, 35-37 

Tattler, wandering, 226 

Termites, 163 

Tern, noddy, 165, 231 

White, 221, 228, 264, 265 
Thallosoma, 314 

Trawling, method of, 28, 29, 30, 31 
Triggerfish, 48. 67, 288, 290, 310, 

312 ^ 

Tropic Birds, red-billed, 45 

Yellow-billed, 10, 
13, 386, 387 
Tunny, 15, 142, 211, 212 
Turtles, sea, 67, 180, 182 


Warbler, yellow, 226, 227 

Weed, Sargassum, 4-40 

Whales, 38 

Wrasse, 309, 314 

Red and green, 90 
Yellow-banded purple, 91 

Xenocys, 179, 180 
Xesurus laticlavius, 172, 183, 184, 

284, 285 
of, 290-296 
qualities of, 
286, 287 

Yellow-legs, 229